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Insights on Reducing Physician Turnover

Improve Physician Retension and Boost Your Bottom Line
In Their Words: The Real Story on Physician Turnover

Table of Contents:


More Groups Tackling Physician Turnover and Focusing on Physician Retention

Recent survey results indicate that physician turnover is a growing concern among U.S. medical groups and that targeted retention initiatives are on the rise. In comparing its 2005 membership survey results to those from 2004, the American Medical Group Association, along with Cejka Search, highlighted the following findings.

  • Nearly half (47%) of respondents reported being highly concerned about physician turnover, with more than a third (36%) placing it among the top 3 critical issues facing their group practices.
  • The number of respondents indicating they track physiccian turnover increased by 23% (from 67% in 2004 to 90% in 2005).
  • The number of respondents reporting they have designated retention initiatives increased by 10% (from 48% in 2004 to 58% in 2005).

Current Retention Plans Inadequate

While research among medical group managers highlights increased focus on physician retention, new LocumTenens.com survey results indicate physicians aren't recognizing it.

Asked how important they thought a physician retention plan was to physician satisfaction, 84% of more than 2,500 responding physicians said it was "very important" (51%) or "important" (33%). However, when asked whether retention plans specifically for physicians were in place in their organizations, only 10% said "yes." Forty percent said "no" and 24% said they didn't know.

Of the physicians who reported their organizations had retention plans in place, more than half (56%) said their current plans did not meet their needs adequately. When asked to identify current versus desired retention plan benefits from a 21-item list, relatively small percentages of physicians identified any one benefit.

Physicians Insights on Retention

More than 800 of these physicians took the time to include comments with their survey responses. The qualitative survey results indicate that what many physicians want, and feel they are missing, is a greater sense of connection-to their patients, to hospital decision-makers, to co-workers and to the greater community. The large categories of responses were:

  • Feeling a sense of control in their practices
  • Feeling respected by administration and valued as people, employees and contributors
  • Enjoying better work-life balance.

Main themes emerging from the comments included desires for greater involvement in decision-making about how their practices are run, greater control over work hours, increased flexibility to help them better manage work with other parts of their lives, and compensation plans that better recognize individual contributions to improved patient care and profitability.

Does Your Employer's Physician Retention Plan Meet Your Needs?

According to survey results from the American Medical Group Association and Cejka Search, roughly 58% of U.S. medical groups have targeted physician retention initiatives in place. However, LocumTenens.com survey results indicate that only 10% of physicians perceive that such plans exist. Among that 10% of respondents, more than half (56%) said existing physician retention plans did not meet their needs adequately.

Consider comments like these:

  • "Physician retention would be most positively affected by inclusion of physicians in administrative decisions that affect their practice and patients and by provision of resources that enable them to perform their activities in clinical care, research and teaching more effectively…"
  • "Physician retention for me refers to opportunities for career growth and development, not simply financial incentives. That means opportunities to participate in program planning, management, outcomes initiatives, research and advocacy (to name a few)."
  • "I think more and more physicians feel 'apart from' rather than 'a part of' medical practices."
  • "Flexibility in work hours, profit sharing and feedback would all help. Currently I receive no feedback and have no more stake in the company than an hourly employee. Motivation to perform well is enhanced by having a stake in the operation. Proper performance requires feedback."
  • "When I worked for [ommitted], nobody ever came around to say, 'Hello. How are things going?' Nobody told us when to come to work and nobody told us when to go home. We could work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and no one would ever know the difference. Employees like to know they are appreciated."
  • "With the increasing pressure in the medical field to focus on numbers and productivity, it is very important to try to remember the person behind the job…"
  • "It basically boils down to how you treat people."

-2006 LocumTenens.com physician survey respondents