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The US Army Reserve (USAR) has struggled in recent years to recruit and retain physicians. US Army Recruiting Command achieved less than half of its physician recruitment target, or mission, in FY 2018. Although recruiting success improved notably in FY 2019, to 77 percent, it still falls short, especially in important medical subspecialties closely related to force readiness, such as primary care and surgery.

Retention also remains problematic, reflected in reserve Medical Corps endstrength. In FY 2017, the Medical Corps was at 41 percent of its required strength, a figure that had barely budged by September 2019, to 43 percent. These challenges have important implications for mobilizations, deployments, and readiness.

In this light, the Army Marketing and Research Group asked CNA to determine how it can support the US Army Recruiting Command to more effectively market and advertise to qualified candidates for the Army Reserve Medical Corps. We took a hybrid quantitative and qualitative approach in tackling these issues—supplementing analysis of existing data by conducting focus groups. We first summarize what we learned from the available data and then discuss the insights from medical recruiters and Army physicians in our focus groups.

It is critical that the Army assess how to align its recruiter credit system with its big-picture recruiting objectives. The credit system should be changed to incentivize medical recruiters to engage with medical school or premed candidates—since early exposure to USAR opportunities is ideal. The constraints imposed by geographic recruiting borders need to be reconsidered to motivate an effective virtual recruiting strategy in an era of increasing online presence. Any alterations to the credit system also should incentivize recruiting at national conferences without restricting recruiters according to the physical location of
the conference.

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DISTRIBUTION STATEMENT A. Approved for public release: distribution


  • Pages:
  • Document Number: DSI-2020-U-027417-Final
  • Publication Date: 6/1/2020