What the physician hiring process can learn from the NFL draft

As I was getting my daily fix of ESPN recently, something a bit different than the routine scores and highlights came across my TV.

Two very talented men, both potentially bound for NFL stardom, were showcasing their talents for scouts, coaches, recruiters, and reporters – a panel of judges if you will. Although these players have certainly proved their talents in the past, these workouts will likely determine which player an NFL team will choose to build their future around. These workouts are vigorous, competitive, and very, very public. As draft day approaches, there is a running tally of whose stock is up and whose is down. Which player is at the top of Mel Kiper’s big board? Who will be drafted in the top ten? Will they succeed or be a bust?

As I listened to the reporter break down every step of Cam Newton’s latest pro day, I wondered what it might be like if physicians were put through this type of workout and evaluation before we were “chosen to play on a team?” If professional entertainers are subject to this type of scrutiny, shouldn’t we expect at least that from those of us sworn to care for the sick and “do no harm?”

I thought about the standard recruiting process for most physicians. A check of our background and training. A reference check from those with whom we have worked. An interview or two and a nice dinner. All of this is usually followed by an offer and a contract. Not exactly the NFL combine when it comes to assessment of quality.

The world of quality in healthcare is at a pivotal point in its history. Tracking of quality data and performance is certainly central to any health reform effort, but when it comes to individual physician performance, we admittedly have a long way to go. The arguments over which data are good enough and whether or not it “applies to me” continue to be the core of many discussions in many physician lounges and hospital board rooms. We may not ever get to the level of intensity seen on NFL draft day, but if we truly hope to deliver the highest level of quality for our patients, we must be more open to increasingly higher levels of scrutiny and evaluation of our performance.

Mark W. Browne is Principal, Pershing Yoakley & Associates and can be found on Twitter @consultdoc.

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  • http://creatingasda.blogspot.com Bryan

    I wonder how the stats for the Physician Draft will reflect preventative measures

  • http://onhealthtech.blogspot.com/ Margalit Gur-Arie

    …and I wonder if those at the top of the list will, by definition, agree to go to the dinkiest teams….

  • Ian M.

    Not to trivialize the author’s point – but I thought medical school, residency, and board exams were the physician combine…?

  • Andy

    Interviews or selections similar to the draft exercises you described have been going in in the UK for the past few years. I definitely went through one before I got into my training program.

  • http://www.rugbymedical.com Zev

    From the layman’s perspective, I see that doctors who perform well win recognition and earn a reputation as top physicians. Those that don’t, generally, don’t go to the top (unless they are masters at self-marketing and healthcare politics).
    I would also guess that Ian M’s point that med school and residency help rank new doctors.

  • http://skepticalscalpel.blogspot.com/ Skeptical Scalpel

    I’m not so sure. The NFL teams get it wrong much more often than you think. There’s a nice section about this in the fascinating book “Scorecasting.” Here is an excerpt which explains http://is.gd/AHKJjK.

  • Gary

    Having recently gone through the NRMP residency matching process in the united states, I can say that the combination of testing, evaluation, and selection is very rigorous, much more so than any other professional field of which I am aware (obviously seal team six has it harder… ;) ). I agree safety and quality number should be incorporated into medical practice, but it is also difficult to separate these from systemic/structural factors unique to a particular practice site. Keep in mind those NFL football contracts are also probably about 100 times more lucrative than the average physician’s… And many specialties have oral board examinations which are similar to a “public workout”.

  • solo fp

    I have tried for years to add a doc to my practice. Most of the femle docs are interested in kids the first year in practice with maternity leave. Most new graduates refuse to do inpatient care or hospital call. Most new graduates want a min. of 4 weeks vacation, guaranteed day off each week, and no weekend work. Primary care is one of the top three recruited areas nationwide. The guaranteed starting FP/IM salaries in my area are around $180,000 with a $10,000 or more sign on bonus and production bonuses. No compete clauses also are the norm. A lot of the new draftees in town only last 1-2 years, until they can move to the big city teams with more excitement.