There is a well-documented shortage of physicians. According to data from the Association of American Medical Colleges, the U.S. could see a shortage of up to 124,000 physicians across all specialties by 2034. That can be chalked up to a greying workforce and medical graduates not keeping up with a growing demand, as well as some physicians leaving the profession. With a shortage, organizations face more competition for clinical talent, making physician retention paramount.
To put the problem in perspective: 77% of medical groups report they do not have a formal program or strategy for physician retention. That’s an alarming number, but it also represents an opportunity. With the right combination of compensation, culture and support, healthcare organizations can innovate their way through the challenges we are experiencing, leading to improvements in productivity and revenue recovery.
Recently, LocumTenens.com partnered with MGMA to conduct independent research on physician retention. The report, The Innovation Imperative for Physician Retention outlines the problem and explores possible solutions by analyzing data from healthcare leaders across the country.
Looking at the data in the report, we can gleam some strategies to guide our physician retention initiatives.
Formalize Physician Retention Strategies
It sounds like an obvious first step, but as the above stat demonstrates, most medical practices don’t create formal processes and strategies around physician retention. According to the report, one of the best ways to begin a formalized retention process is to create a Physician Retention Committee composed of 6-10 physicians, as well as the staff member tasked with physician recruitment and retention. Creating a Committee can turn some of the most dissenting voices into advocates, as well as lead to the development of new programs that will drive results.
Nearly half of medical practices do not use employee satisfaction surveys to measure engagement. As an industry, we capture data throughout the care continuum that defines success in the patient experience, but we do little to understand what drives retention in our own organization. Creating surveys and programs that gather retention and satisfaction data can serve as the basis for creating programs that address retention challenges.
Start a Dialogue
When building strategies to mitigate physician departure, it is vital to understand clinician attitudes about their work. Most data shows that compensation is the most important factor in physician job satisfaction, but it is not the only element. By listening and starting a dialogue, we can empower physicians to impact the patient experience and the organization as a whole. A sense of ownership leads to improved retention.
Physician retention is a defining element of the current healthcare landscape. How a medical practice addresses this growing challenge will determine its long-term sustainability from a financial and access standpoint. This work does not have to be done alone. There are strategic partners available that can fill needs and provide a vision for the future. Beyond filling contract staffing needs, LocumTenens.com has robust processes that bring data to the forefront, allowing organizations to make decisions based on best practices and analytics.
This discussion is just the tip of the iceberg. There are more strategies and opportunities to boost physician retention, and the full report, The Innovation Imperative for Physician Retention, is available to download now.
About the author
Senior Vice President, Hospital- Based Surgery
Scott has over 20 years of healthcare and staffing experience with three diﬀerent firms in the healthcare industry. After joining LocumTenens.com, he was asked to start a new division of the company and two years later was asked to join the Surgery team to lead the sales division. Scott is now a partner in the organization and oversees six of the company’s divisions including the Hospital-Based Surgery division, our account management divisions, national recruitment team, as well as the national business development team. He received his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Georgia and is a huge fan of his Bulldogs.