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Retail Health Is Growing Fast and With It the Need for Clinicians

Retail health is growing fast—and so too is the demand for clinicians. The key to filing these roles? Knowing how to position them to practitioners from more traditional healthcare settings.

Retail Health Is Growing Fast and With It the Need for Clinicians

By: John Rossheim

Healthcare recruiters—are you ready to step up and fill your retail healthcare clients’ voracious need for talent?  

Retail is one of the fastest growing sectors of healthcare providers: to date there are approximately 2,800 U.S. retail health clinics while urgent care centers have ballooned to an $18 billion industry. The retail trend has prompted the need for a variety of healthcare workers, particularly clinicians. 

At first glance, it may not seem difficult to source clinicians for retail clinics or urgent care centers. After all, they’re usually listed on provider web sites and in licensure directories. The real challenge? Persuading these prospects that non-traditional healthcare settings--and the specific employers who operate in them--represent good career opportunities. 

This unique challenge prompts a need for strategy. To help your staffing team devise its own approach to recruit retail health workers, we’ve gathered some helpful talking points for your future conversations with in-demand candidates who may be contemplating a move into retail healthcare. 

For some demographics, retail health clinics are very attractive
With its flex staffing model and many part-time options, the retail health clinic setting lends itself to the new generation of nurse practitioners and physician assistants, says Travis Singleton, executive vice president at clinical recruiter Merritt Hawkins.

“The retail clinic job is what so many millennials want,” says Singleton. “The job and the compensation are simple and well-defined. Providers in these settings do just ten things really well.”

Retail clinics can be attractive to clinicians who desire flexible work options—say those with small children, or medical professionals who have returned to school for further training and want to work nights and weekends. “If all of this fits the candidate, you’re golden,” Singleton says.

Still, vying with hospitals for the services of qualified clinicians can be challenging. “Hospitals have recruiting machines, with their relationships with nursing and medical schools,” says Brenda Doherty, a partner at search firm Buffkin/Baker. “Retail clinics must compete for the same pool of clinicians."

When the need is to fill a role like chief nursing officer, it’s critical that retail clinics offer a well-rounded compensation package. “Independent primary care groups and hospitals are getting creative with signing bonuses and loan forgiveness,” says Singleton. “Retail healthcare has to match and sometimes top the offers of traditional care settings.”

Another angle to keep in mind: retail health offers clinicians who have advanced degrees and management skills a variety of opportunities for advancement that they wouldn’t find in a conventional group practice. “They could be front and center in developing new and different ways to deliver care, have multi-site, multi-state responsibility and put their signature on things,” says Doherty. 

What’s the appeal of urgent care to physicians and APPs?
Urgent care centers can appeal to physicians for some of the same reasons that retail health clinics are attractive to advanced practice providers: flexible and humane working hours, a predictable milieu, manageable scope of practice and competitive compensation. 

Regular daytime hours, even if they include weekends and holidays, are a key attraction of urgent care centers, says Tom Davis, MD, principal of Tom Davis Consulting. For example, at CityMD, a chain of more than 100 urgent care centers in New York, New Jersey and greater Seattle, clinics are open 8 to 15 hours a day, but not overnight or late on weekend evenings.

CityMD often hires physicians from hospital emergency departments, says David Diamond, chief human resource officer. “The ER setting is very different from urgent care,” says Diamond. “Our urgent care centers have a clean, fresh look.” By contrast, emergency departments, with their mandate to treat everyone, can be overcrowded and stressful for clinicians.

Some urgent care centers take additional measures to improve the work environment for clinicians. “Unlike ERs, we have scribes who do electronic medical records entry,” saving physicians hours of computer work each shift, says Diamond. CityMD’s scribes are often premed graduates who are entering medical school, or medical graduates who have yet to begin their residencies.

The emergency department isn’t the only sourcing channel for urgent care. “These are also excellent starter jobs for nurse practitioners and physician assistants right out of school,” says Dr. Davis.

The controlled environment of urgent care can also be appealing to the ever-growing cohort of experienced physicians who feel worn down by the stresses of private clinical practice. “Urgent care roles also serve as step-down jobs for burned out clinicians who are looking for a path beyond medicine,” says Dr. Davis.

An even better sweetener may be to give doctors a stake in the business. With physician shortages growing more severe in many regions, “I expect offers of equity interest to become far more common,” says Dr. Davis. It’s a benefit that non-profit providers don’t offer. 

The convenience of retail healthcare has made it a welcome option for consumers, a trend that will likely sustain the demand for clinicians. With the right talking points and relevant benefits, your staffing team can make a strong case for them to join its ranks.