February was filled with wintry weather in much of the country, but the employment scene heated up for doctor’s offices according to recent statistics from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. From February to March, physician offices added 6,000 jobs. Overall employment in the healthcare sector was close to 2.6 million.
If these numbers are a sign of a robust healthcare economy, they’re worth watching for another reason—your physicians and other staff might be looking at other employment options. Although doctors are not relocating at the rate they were before the economic downturn, the rate at which physicians leave one location for another is running at about 11% annually, according to a 2011 study.
The good news is physicians usually leave because they are dissatisfied with some element of their current practice, not because they have spoken to a recruiter. Some reasons for physician turnover include:
- They are not a good clinical or cultural “fit” with others in the practice
- Their expectations or compensation do not mesh with actual practice conditions
- Poor communication with management (the belief their input is nonexistent or ignored)
- They don’t feel recognized for their accomplishments
The features that tend to retain physicians often are the same ones that attract new doctors to a practice. The Medical Group Management Association offers physician retention suggestions that can help strengthen physicians’ stake in your organization:
- Welcome new physicians to the practice by offering a community tour or arranging a staff luncheon. These activities may also be of interest to your veteran physicians.
- Learn about each physician’s professional interests and pair him or her with a mentor who can help with professional growth.
- Avoid administrative issues by have reasonable schedule expectations in place and qualified administrative staff on hand to assist physicians with any issues.
- Communicate more than you think you need to. Ask physicians questions, listen to the answers, and provide constructive feedback.
- Offer physician-friendly practice management systems. Most doctors wouldn’t leave a practice just because the software is onerous, but it might be a contributing factor. Most physicians aren’t involved in choosing a practice management system, but they’re well aware of it when problems occur.
Finally, Physicians Practice offers one additional tip: Be sure you offer competitive compensation.