Making Waves

SECTOR WATCH - Medical recruitment leader, Wavelength International, shares challenge and insights into healthcare recruitment.

Placing candidates into both permanent and locum roles throughout Australia and beyond is no easy task. One successful medical recruitment agency with a proud 18-year track record of placing Doctors in the region is Wavelength International. Without the services of medical recruitment agencies, many struggling hospitals and remote communities would go without critical clinical staff. There are however, challenges that these healthcare recruitment agencies face, both as a business, and as part of the wider sector of healthcare recruitment.

A common challenge within recruitment is the geographic location of candidates and potentially relocating them. Many of Wavelength International’s clients require medical professionals to be placed in both regional and remote parts of Australia. There is currently a maldistribution of these professionals, with majority of practitioners being based in metropolitan areas, meaning it is often difficult to attract Doctors to the more remote locations. There has been a large influx in overseas trained medical professionals gaining certifications in the hope that these Doctors would take up the remote specialist positions. However, these Doctors are often opening private practices in the cities, therefore it is not having the desired effect.

To combat this issue, permanent recruitment practice lead at Wavelength International, Emma Gordon says, “Many employers, universities, specialty colleges, and government bodies are striving to reduce the imbalance in the long-term and are implementing strategies to attract more Doctors to these regions, including rural medical schools and training programs,” she says. Wavelength International partners with their clients to provide short-term cover in the interim and to deliver strategic recruitment campaigns to attract Doctors into longer term positions ongoing.

One solution to the issue of remote versus regional placements is how technology can be used within recruitment. The Directors of Wavelength, Dr John Bethell and Claire Ponsford, speak of globalisation and the changing environment in the tele-health space. Looking into the near future, Doctor visits will be available more remotely, using technology as a means of communication. This will apply to GP visits, medical report writing, specialist visits, and even surgery going forward, meaning that Doctors may not need to be in a specific location to undertake their work. The increased globalisation that we are becoming more and more exposed to, whether it be virtual or physical, means that Doctors can be move around and travel more freely. As Dr Bethell puts it, this “changes the way Doctors are hired and engaged” and is a huge trend that Wavelength International as a business has identified and is staying ahead of.

Complex credentialing is required within recruitment, even more so within the world of healthcare recruitment. Senior medical recruitment consultant at Wavelength International, Amber Derby-Davies talks about the fact that each state and area health service in the region has a very specific need and it can take months for a recruitment consultant to understand these intricacies. This is why experience within the healthcare recruitment industry is a highly desired skill. Wavelength International in particular strives for 100 per cent compliance and is currently ranked amongst the top two per cent of recruitment agencies for their quality standards. Medical recruitment is very different to any other recruitment business due to its complexities around compliance. At the end of the day though, Derby-Davies says, “It comes down to having a positive outlook and a ‘can do’ attitude”.

Legislative agenda

One challenge that a ‘can do’ attitude cannot always overcome is the legislative changes that recruiters in the healthcare industry need to stay on top of, in regard to medical registration, billings, and immigration. Wavelength International takes great pride in the impact of their work and because of that, each recruitment consultant needs to ensure their knowledge stays relevant and that they are adhering to policy at all times. To support the recruitment teams, Wavelength International has an in-house Regulatory and Migration team to keep their finger on the pulse, so to speak, and mitigate any disruption or risk to clients and candidates ahead of time.

Chris Riley, CEO of Wavelength International, speaks of one example of this being the imminent changes to the IMG General Practitioners assessment process which is currently providing some uncertainty about the way in which Doctors are assessed in Australia. It may mean longer and more expensive assessment processes for medical professionals and may even change who is considered qualified to work as a Doctor in Australia, therefore reducing talent pools to be more locally focused. Similarly, there is uncertainty in the air around permanent residency eligibility and age restrictions for candidates, further reducing recruiter talent pools. Wavelength International’s expert Regulatory and Migration team liaise closely with all parties along the way to understand what changes will be made and how this will impact clients and candidates.

Challenges within recruitment can be quite frustrating and overwhelming at times. This is no different within healthcare recruitment. Thankfully Wavelength International provides a supportive environment with plenty of learning opportunities available for its recruitment consultants, to help overcome some of these industry challenges. As a business, they truly invest in their employees, support their development, and encourage having a healthy work/life balance. The casual dress code, genuine workplace flexibility, free breakfast daily, and a whole raft of other fun perks help them to attract and engage the right fit for their dynamic and collaborative culture. Even amongst these plentiful industry trials and tribulations, it’s no wonder they’ve placed in the Top 30 BRW Best Places to Work list for the seventh year!