Physician Retention Starts with Recruiting: 7 Things You Can Do to Mitigate Turnover

Posted by Doximity TF Team

116621239_sPredictions of an increasing U.S. physician shortage have been around for years, and the recent pandemic only perpetuated this concern, as physicians are also retiring at a rapid pace. A new study from Jackson Physician Search reveals more insights about physician career satisfaction, and we’re sharing some of its findings, along with what recruiters can do to help doctors maintain career satisfaction.  

First and foremost, the report found that the cost of physician turnover is staggering. A single physician vacancy can easily cost a healthcare organization $1 million in lost revenue, which has a detrimental impact on hospitals and medical practices who are already struggling financially,” said Tony Stajduhar, President of Jackson Physician Search. “Recruitment costs can add up to $250,000 or more per physician, including sourcing, relocation, and sign-on bonus, according to the survey. Plus, lost revenue can easily exceed $1 million during a specialist vacancy.”

Furthermore, 26% of physicians from the survey stated there are no programs in place at their organizations to deal with disengagement and career satisfaction. One of the challenges for healthcare administrators is developing an effective physician retention program that reduces physician turnover and increases physician engagement, mitigates burnout, and contributes to positive workplace culture.

Here are 7 ways you can help minimize physician turnover at your organization (or the organizations you’re hiring for):

  1. Put a retention plan in place + communicate, communicate, communicate. Hospital administrators recognize the need for retention programs, but physicians feel those programs are largely ineffective, or at a minimum, poorly communicated. Per the Jackson study, 83 percent of physicians said their employers have no retention program. What’s most concerning, though, is that physicians and administrators both feel that even when a retention program does exist, it isn’t effective or desirable.
  2. Offer a formal orientation to new doctors. 1 in 3 physicians reported that they receive no formal orientation upon joining their employer, which some believe is critical to physician performance and retention.
  3. Offer benefits that make doctors want to stay. Compensation is vital to keeping physicians, but they want more. Work/life balance benefits like time off and reduced call are at the top of their list. Providing ways to pay off educational debt is also known to help long-term retention.
  4. Show physicians how they’ll deliver purpose. For those who are healthcare employers, do you have a clear understanding of your mission and values? Learn to articulate this mission, so physicians have a clear understanding of how they can deliver purpose in their position. Make sure these values are in a place where candidates can easily find them, too, and communicated through your messages and Job Posts. 
  5. Offer programs that address burnout. Burnout includes emotional exhaustion, feeling detached or depersonalized when it comes to patients or delivering care, and feeling unsatisfied with job performance and achievements. So, the most common programs found at hospitals and other organizations to help mitigate burnout are wellness and mental health initiatives. 
  6. Amp up your engagement for your physicians. Engagement dips to lower levels within the first three to five years in a position for physicians – about the same time, many of them start looking at other organizations. Are there workplace issues that need to be addressed? Do physicians want more autonomy? Learn what factors contribute to low engagement at your facility (or the facility you’re hiring for) and make appropriate changes.
  7. Focus on recruiting referrals. Referral new hires have significantly higher retention rates than hires from other sources. Plus, new hires from well-designed referral programs routinely produce the highest on-the-job performance of any recruiting source.  

The pandemic and physician burnout implications have affected healthcare organizations and physicians everywhere, but being aware (and staying ahead of) turnover is essential. In June, we noted that an MGMA poll showed most medical practices (87%) had recovered at least some patient volume since COVID-19 took hold, and almost half of those reported patient volumes to at least 75% of their pre-pandemic levels. Now that the vaccines are rolling out, there’s a renewed interest in engaging physicians, mitigating burnout, and finding other ways to help struggling physicians find hope and satisfaction in their jobs.  

If you're using Doximity, do you know which physicians are clicking on your jobs? Is your team sending all of your DocMails each month? The answers to these questions and more can be found by using Talent Finder's reports, and we’re offering a special training session on reporting this April 13th. Grab your seat now.

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Topics: career satisfaction, physician retention, Tips for Physician Recruiting

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