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How to Recruit the Best Teleradiologists Without Upsetting On-Site Rads


Resolving this recruiting dilemma often comes down to how one spins the incentive “differentials.”

Your radiology group needs people. There could be a variety of reasons for this. Perhaps there is more work to do, maybe your current rads are retiring or scaling back their hours, etc. It is time to recruit.

Unfortunately, you’re not located where people want to be, like a major metropolitan area on one of the coasts. To bring in folks and retain them, you can’t just keep pace with other job listings. You have to go above and beyond. This is particularly challenging in times like these when the job market is red hot.

Teleradiology offers a solution. If your needs can be met by remote team members, you no longer have to entice them to relocate. Unlike years ago, when that usually meant contracting with a telerad company and hoping for the best, you can now join the developing trend of hiring your own off-site rads.

You will have to compete for their interest. They’re being courted by other employers with an ever increasing volume of other telerad jobs, not to mention on-site gigs wherever they happen to live. So your group still needs to find ways to stand out from the rest and not everybody can just throw in additional comp into the mix, or offer a pure daytime Monday to Friday schedule.

Some groups add partnership or its equivalent into the mix. It’s a relatively new wrinkle to offer someone who might be hundreds, even thousands of miles away. It is new enough that some on-site rads may be confused, disturbed, or even outraged at the idea. I won’t go into its (de)merits here.

What I have found interesting is some of the discussion among folks who decided that it is an idea worth considering, if not executing. Specifically, there is often the thorny issue of how you go about making telerads partners without diminishing the value of on-site work.

That is, if someone who never has to physically commute and deal with hands-on procedures, in-person interruptions, etc. can be a full partner, there needs to be a deterrent that prevents the on-site folks onsite from saying, “Hey, that sounds great! From now on, I’m working at home too.”

How to Frame The ‘Differentials’ Discussion

The concept of giving telerads less, or demanding more from them, often gets referred to as a “differential.” A lot of levers can be moved in this regard: pay the telerads less, require more hours or less desirable shifts from them, let their partnership shares be non-voting ones, etc. I have heard more than a few creative ideas.

Getting down to brass tacks and identifying reasonable solutions that satisfy all players winds up being easier said than done. Some on-site rads feel like too much is being given away or prospective off-site rads feel like the “partnership” being offered to them is so diminished as to not really being worthy of the word. Alternately, the partnership offer may be perceived as uncompetitive with what other groups are offering.

This topic has been discussed with increasing frequency in online forums. I have also noticed a common refrain regarding the concept of the “differentials” I mentioned above. In every situation I have encountered, stuff is being taken away from the prospective partnership of telerads and/or the track leading to it. It is as if the differential is a penalty, even a punishment, for working remotely.

I emphasize that differentials are a fair concept. There is nothing wrong with a reasonable recognition of the differences between telerad and on-site work. However, when you frame it as a negative, directed at the telerad you are trying to recruit, it establishes an unwelcoming tone. Almost instinctively, the telerad is going to be thinking about how you are treating him or her differently than a non-telerad.

Instead of pouring that vinegar on your negotiations to attract your metaphorical rad flies, I propose applying some honey. Forget about how you’re going to ding folks who work from home. Frame your differential as a bonus for the rads who work on site.

You’re not stripping $100k from the salaries of your telerads. You’re applying a $100k bonus for anybody who comes on site (or a proportional amount for those who are only physically present a fraction of whatever your full-time rads are). The telerads aren’t getting an extra four weeks of nights per year. Rather, the on-site guys have four weeks less. Telerads don’t take an extra year to make partner. The track for on-site rads is a year shorter.

It’s the same partial glass of water but now you’re talking about it being half full. You’re no longer taking anything away from the telerads. Instead, you’re offering them some icing on their cake if they join the on-site ranks.

There’s a psychological underpinning to this approach. People are more motivated by fear of loss than potential for gain. If your prospective telerad lives close enough that he or she might be persuaded to work onsite, or could relocate to your area, maybe the fear of losing a fraction of his or her partnership would be the convincing factor to bring the rad on board.

Oherwise, threatening the prospective telerad with such a loss might motivate him or her to other action, such as continuing to stalk the job listings. If he or she finds one that is offering pretty much the same deal as yours but that job avoids sounding punitive ttowards telerads, your group is not going to look great by comparison.

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