Bluewater Health continues to focus on attracting medical specialists

Strategy employed includes assessing need and sustained recruitment efforts

Dr. Michel Haddad of Bluewater Health

When it comes to the complex job of attracting and retaining top quality staff in a variety of medical disciplines, nobody knows how challenging that task is better than Dr. Michel Haddad, Bluewater Health chief of professional staff.

Indeed, while attracting family physicians is largely the responsibility of the Physician Recruitment Task Force, Dr. Haddad and a team that includes Alison Mahon, director of Professional Staff Programs, have a well-defined process to see that the local hospital has the specialists it needs to serve the area’s population.

It starts with an annual human resources plan that Bluewater Health follows, based on the need of a community the size of Sarnia-Lambton.

“We have to have a variety of specialists in a number of fields to serve our community,” said Dr. Haddad, who has been with Bluewater Health some nine years. A cardiac surgeon by training, Dr. Haddad was appointed to his current position in 2015.

When a vacancy occurs, either by retirement or a physician moving on to another facility, Dr. Haddad and his team go to work.

“We have to examine that area, asking ourselves whether we need more or less of that specialty, depending on the population and the demand. It’s about reaffirming the need,” said Dr. Haddad.

Once that is done, an advertisement is prepared and applicants are invited to apply.

But that’s just one tactic. Also on the list of things the organization will do is tap into its network of specialists.

“We’ll call our friends and spread the word about the specialty area that we need to fill,” he added. “That also includes talking to our contacts at universities where doctors are trained in a particular specialty.”

The process often takes months to complete, said Dr. Haddad.

Once applicants show an interest in a position, Bluewater Health does its “due diligence,” which includes checking the background and suitability of a candidate. It’s a process that includes checking with medical colleagues, both at Bluewater Health and elsewhere.

A committee then interviews the candidate. If all goes well, an offer is made, subject to reference checks.

“It’s a fairly well-choreographed process,” said Dr. Haddad.

“During the interview process, we invest a lot of time with them,” he added. “We show them the facility and the equipment we have here—especially the diagnostics. The objective is to show them that this is a good place to practice.”

Also important to a prospective candidate is knowing they have a good network of colleagues to support their work.

“We also emphasize the quality of the community they would be coming to, which is something that is obviously important,” said Dr. Haddad. “What we really want to do is showcase the region in the best possible light.”

A shortage of Ear, Nose and Throat specialists is a good example of one that is in high demand. Bluewater Health has been actively recruiting for specialists in that area for over a year.

Even so, the success of the recruitment of specialists to Bluewater Health has never been higher, say officials.

Still, connections play a big role in any future success, one reason that Dr. Haddad is open to the public’s input as far as putting them in touch with prospective specialists who may want to consider practising in Sarnia-Lambton.

Anyone who does have such a connection is invited to contact the Medical Affairs office of Bluewater Health.

“It really does take a village,” said Dr. Haddad.

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