Our practice is a small, single-handed rural GP practice. For the last 20 years, there has been an associate, salaried GP to provide the service for one or two days a week as well as holiday cover for the GP principal. The cover provides some welcome respite for the GP principal, as well as the assurance of continuity for the staff and patients. Salaried GP turnover has been fairly low over the years, but recruiting for the job has always been a challenge due to the isolated rural location and flexible hours required as well as the lone-working.
Our current salaried GP gave notice at the start of the year, and we advertised for a replacement using the usual opportunities online, locally and nationally. The advertising expired without any interest. We explored other options, such as locum cover and a job share with neighbouring practices, but costs were high and opportunities to share limited as other practices face the same recruiting challenge. Our local GP VTS scheme has had low numbers of applicants despite its previous popularity a few years ago.
Early this year we decided to take the plunge with social media and develop a practice Facebook page and Twitter account. The practice manager attended a study day on social media, where one of the key points made was that people like to watch personal interest video clips, rather than bland factual, written posts.
We made a short video clip about the practice and posted it on Facebook, mentioning our CCG and local NHS organisations. Within a few days, the clip had reached over 10 000 people, had 84 shares and had been viewed almost 6,000 times. Looking at the statistics and comments, our patients really got behind the recruitment drive and spread the message, often endorsed with some really touching and positive comments to support us. A few days after the post, we were contacted by a GP who had been notified about the posting through social media, and she applied for the job. She is an ideal candidate and we are looking forward to her starting work next month.
Social media was a really helpful tool in that the message was spread though diverse and interconnected networks. It still amazes me what a small world it is after all and how powerful the algorithms are at linking everyone together. The personalised endorsements on re-posts were also very beneficial to improving our creditability for potential employees. Social media is not a recruiting panacea but is potentially another useful tool in the armoury, especially in the era of GP shortages.
Dr Mike Brookes is a GP in Reeth, Yorkshire