Revitalizing the Family Medicine Workforce Pipeline—Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine, Kalamazoo, Mich.

When seeking new faculty members and family physicians to staff local community health centers, the department of family medicine at Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine faced the national shortage of family medicine faculty and a limited local hiring pool. The department’s old faculty recruiting paradigm of hiring community physicians with at least two years of experience left a small number of community doctors who were unprepared for the scholarly activity required to be a faculty member. The Family Health Center (FHC) of Kalamazoo, the department’s local federally qualified health center, was also using a recruiting strategy of hiring search firms to identify locum tenens doctors, which was expensive and resulted in temporary employees facing a steep learning curve.

To address these issues, the department refocused its recruitment strategy to begin by encouraging family medicine residents to practice at the FHC and then hiring recent graduates from within the department, whose scope of practice actually often exceeds that of community doctors with more experience and who have had three years of residency to prove themselves. It recruited students for residency by targeting applicants who had expressed a desire to work with an underserved population, and all eight of its open positions for the family medicine class of 2016 were filled in the match.

By recruiting recent graduates from within, the department was able to fill a vacant faculty position and the FHC was able to fill two vacant staff positions. The department has also improved resident satisfaction and reduced costs associated with the hiring process.