Ten Tips for Recruiting Medical Residents

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Medical residents often begin the physician job search process 12-18 months prior to completing their training, making spring prime-time recruiting season.

With the physician shortage forecasted between 54,100 and 139,000 by the year 2033, recruiting medical residents is the best hope for healthcare administrators to fill in any gaps in their medical staffing plan due to normal physician turnover, planned physician retirements, and population growth.

Competition for top medical residents is always steep, so it is important for administrators to recognize that today’s residents have different perspectives and expectations about their career than those from years past.

While residents are equally passionate about the practice of medicine and patient care, it can be hard to reach them on a personal and professional level if you are stuck in the recruitment methods of the past. Here are ten tips to help you successfully recruit medical residents:

1. Use Social Media

Maybe more than any other generation of medical residents, recent graduating classes are all about technology. They are digitally connected through social media, so if your organization doesn’t have an engaging online presence, you may not be able to reach them. Don’t discount the effectiveness of social media platforms like LinkedIn and Doximity.

2. Create a Positive and Welcoming Environment

As you are engaging residents, be sure to listen more than you speak. Ask questions to find out about their goals and interests. By learning about them, you are creating an honest, open rapport and fostering an environment of trust which can be a winning combination for you. They are already under the pressure of making an important career decision, and anything you do to keep the process on the lighter side could be appreciated.

3. Respect Their Time

Long hours are nothing new for medical residents. They are managing the delicate balance of learning and performing in a very challenging environment. Don’t just add to the bombardment of job notifications that they receive on a daily basis. Instead, use the information you have gathered about their interests to keep the outreach relevant to them. This will help you cut through the noise while showing you respect their time.

4. Money Isn’t Everything

It may seem counter-intuitive to think that a resident with almost $200,000 in student loan debt isn’t totally focused on money, but it is true. Now more than ever, new physicians value their time away from work. Salary will always be important, but schedules, benefits, and other factors play a role in attracting residents. Stay open to creative compensation packages to set your organization apart from the crowd.

5. Focus on Work/life Balance

Demonstrate how you want to help them achieve a healthy work/life balance. Your approach should embody your investment in creating a culture of physician wellness. Think about ways to offer flexible scheduling and manageable call schedules. Earn their trust by illustrating how their life away from work is important to the organization.

6. Give Them Data

If you have been listening to your candidates, you will know the information that is important to them. Be prepared with current, accurate data about the position, such as patient volumes, compensation structure, performance expectations, etc. The key is to present the information in a format they are comfortable with. For example, instead of rattling off volumes of data over the phone, provide highlights and follow up with a more detailed email for them to review when they have a moment.

7. Highlight Culture and Values

Physicians today, residents included, want to be associated with a healthcare organization aligned with their values. Make it a point to highlight community initiatives, corporate mission, and values, and how culture plays a role throughout the organization. It will help to establish a connection on personal and professional levels and lays the foundation for strong physician retention.

8. Be a Resource

Any time you are speaking with a resident, a part of you is still recruiting. However, it can be valuable to be seen as a trusted resource for these young professionals. Offering advice or career insights can establish rapport and trust. Even if they are ultimately interested in a different organization, you are laying the groundwork for future opportunities. Keep in mind how connected this generation is, leading them to send classmates or colleagues your way.

9. Win the On-site Interview

Up to this point, all of your interactions with a resident have been verbal or in writing. A well-planned on-site interview is your opportunity to demonstrate everything you have talked about until now. For example, showcase your organization’s culture and values by introducing colleagues who embody them. By meeting those individuals who share similar traits, they will feel a sense of connection. The on-site interview is also a time to demonstrate everything you have learned about the candidate by including things of interest to them. For example, schedule time for a visit to a local hiking trail or botanical garden.

10. Communicate Future Growth Opportunities

Early career physicians want to join an organization where they can grow. Telling them about the organization’s mentorship and leadership development programs allows them to envision their future career path. If a physician can see themself maturing within your organization, you have a strong chance of retaining them for the long term.

Every resident is going to have different drivers and motivations that contribute to their career decisions. The key to setting your organization apart from the crowd is to individualize the recruitment experience as much as possible. With the proliferation of social media, it doesn’t take an excessive amount of effort to learn about the candidates you are recruiting. Learn about them as individuals and you can form stronger connections and appeal to them in specifics. This approach is far more effective than utilizing a generic one-size-fits-all recruitment strategy.

Our more than 40 years of experience has allowed us the opportunity to recruit many residents and if you are interested in leveraging our physician recruitment expertise, contact us today.

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From Skeptic to Raving Fan: Rural Hospital Fills Two-year Vacancy in 11 Weeks

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Six months is the average amount of time it takes to fill a Family Medicine vacancy, and for a rural hospital with limited resources, the search often takes even longer. Meanwhile, other physicians are picking up the slack to care for patients, risking an increase in burnout.

This unfortunate predicament was playing out for a rural Texas hospital that had spent two years trying to recruit the right physician. Other physician recruitment firms attempted to help, but the candidates they presented weren’t the right cultural fit. The hospital’s leadership prioritized long-term retention in their recruitment efforts and knew settling for a candidate would be a short-term solution at best. They had understandably grown frustrated with the process, and the CEO was skeptical that any recruitment firm would be able to fill the role.

Respectful of the CEO’s hesitancy to try another firm, Senior Vice President Dane Altman made a clear case for exactly how Jackson Physician Search would approach the search. Impressed with the transparency of our all-inclusive fee structure, 100% digital recruitment strategy, and Dane’s forthright communication style, the CEO decided to partner with us.

Our Mission, Rooted in Four Decades of Service in Healthcare, is to Always Deliver What We Promise.

As the physician recruiter teaming up with Dane, Senior Search Consultant Jeff Payne understood the hospital’s history and sought to provide assurance. With our mission in mind, Jeff laid out a clear plan for how often and what methods he would use to provide search updates.

Jeff’s primary contact had a wide variety of responsibilities, with hiring being just one. Nevertheless, she was engaged throughout the process. She emphasized that she was only interested in seeing candidates who met a specific list of criteria. Jeff used her direction to create a detailed profile from which he would build out the physician job description and marketing plan.

The hospital initially wanted to see six or seven strong candidates, however Jeff felt that would be doing them a disservice. He explained, “Evaluating seven physicians takes an organization a lot of time. Part of the value I bring is doing that work for them. My aim is to present two equally qualified physicians who will both be a great cultural fit. From there, they simply have to choose a favorite.”

Rural Hospital CEO Instrumental in Making Candidate Feel Welcomed and Valued.

A potential favorite emerged early in the form of Dr. D. She was finishing her residency in West Virginia and met all of the hospital’s criteria. Likewise, the smaller hospital in a semi-rural setting was appealing to the candidate.

After three successful phone interviews, the hospital invited Dr. D for an on-site interview. Due to prior commitments, a month and a half would pass before the candidate’s schedule would allow for the visit, however, Jeff ensured communication channels remained open. He anticipated that the hospital’s salary offer could be a sticking point for Dr. D, so he proactively began initial negotiations even before the on-site interview took place. Simultaneously, he kept a conversation going with Dr. D and worked to adjust her expectations.

As predicted, Dr. D’s visit went well. The hospital arranged for her to spend time with the experienced Family Medicine physician on staff who would be her mentor, and the two physicians hit it off. The hospital built in plenty of free time for Dr. D to explore the town. They had also identified some potential land for sale where she and her husband might do some hobby farming – something for which she had expressed an interest. Their careful attention to detail and efforts to help her envision a life in Texas made the decision an easy one for Dr. D.

The hospital was excited to finally extend an offer. While Jeff and the hospital coordinator handled the back-and-forth negotiations to finalize contract details, the CEO emailed Dr. D directly and invited her to contact him with any questions or concerns she had. Unsure of protocol, Dr. D asked Jeff if he thought she should reach out to the CEO. “I told her since he’d offered it to her, she could most certainly take him up on it,” explains Jeff. “The fact that he offered her that level of access, even before she was officially on board, says a lot about how much they valued her.” It also signaled to Dr. D that the organization prioritized open communication, an attractive quality in an employer.

From Search Initiation to Signed Contract in Just 11 Weeks!

Jeff attributes the quick success to our digital candidate sourcing strategy combined with consistent communication between all parties. Jeff particularly valued his working relationship with the liaison at the hospital. “We were both committed to open communication,” Jeff says. “She did a great job in helping to move the process forward.”

The feeling was mutual. The client provided overwhelmingly positive feedback about Jackson Physician Search, and specifically, Jeff.

“We were impressed with the transparency of the fee-structure, detailed preparation and presentation of our opportunity, and the communication throughout the process. [Jeff] was very results-oriented and paid close attention to our wants and needs for our search. This level of professionalism resulted in a quick positive outcome for our search, not to mention our recruiter’s knowledge, experience and work ethic is to be admired.”

If your organization is seeking a physician recruitment partner that will keep you informed every step of the way, Jackson Physician Search is ready to help. Contact a recruiter today.

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Jackson Physician Search Helped a Physician Find Fulfillment in Rural Healthcare

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A Hematologist, Dr. B, was working in academia at a university in Ohio. Between the clinic and the classroom, her schedule was packed. The time she did spend at home with her young children was often spent writing or reviewing papers. She was regularly published in medical journals and was on track for a full professorship, but at what cost to her family? At what cost to her mental health?

It wasn’t only her young children that caused Dr. B’s search for a better balance. Her parents, who lived in Pittsburgh, visited often, but their ability to make multiple trips each year would diminish with age. And what would happen when they eventually needed her help? How could she care for them while living so far away?

All of this was on Dr. B’s mind when she saw an email about a physician job opening from Senior Director of Recruiting Sally Ann Patton. The Medical Director opportunity appealed to Dr. B’s need for challenge and growth, and the location was ideal in proximity to her parents

The Pursuit of Work-life Balance

Dr. B reached out to Sally Ann, who immediately recognized that Dr. B. was more than qualified. However, Sally Ann wondered if this highly lauded physician from the world of academia was serious about a position with a rural hospital. While the “Medical Director” title carried some prestige, there would be no publications or accolades in the role. The focus would be largely clinical. While there would be some management responsibilities and the potential to serve as a mentor, would this be enough to satisfy a physician like Dr. B?

Although Sally Ann had some initial reservations, the more she learned about Dr. B’s present situation and her desire for a better quality of life, the more Sally Ann began to see how it might work out to be the perfect fit.

Negotiating the Physician Contract

During the on-site interview and community tour, the hospital leadership and staff adored Dr. B and did their best to make her feel at home. She enjoyed her visit, and after spending a few days in the community, seeing several neighborhoods and schools, she began to picture a life there.

Imagining herself in the job was one thing, signing a physician contract was another. Dr. B pushed back on the facility’s first offer, and Sally Ann and her contact at the facility went back and forth on several rounds of negotiations. In the meantime, the hospital was acquired by a nearby university system. This complicated the contract’s progress, but Sally Ann thought the facility’s new ties to an academic institution would make the job even more appealing to Dr. B.

As contract negotiations continued, the hospital’s medical director officially resigned, making leadership at the facility even more motivated to come to an agreement. Dr. B’s motivation was intensifying as well. That fall, her mom suffered a health scare, shining a light on one of the primary reasons Dr. B wanted to relocate – to be available for her parents.

Identify the “Why” and Keep Coming Back to It

The story demonstrates the importance of understanding the reason “why” a physician candidate is considering a switch to rural medicine. Is it the slower pace of life? Leadership opportunities? More meaningful work?

Dr. B’s reasons were clear from that first conversation with Sally Ann. However, she needed reminders along the way. “I just kept bringing her back to her why,” Sally Ann explains. “When the logistics seemed complicated or the contract still wasn’t right, I’d say, ‘Remember why you are doing this. For your kids. For your parents. For your peace of mind.’ She needed to focus on that to keep moving forward.”

A Win-win for the Community, and Dr. B

Throughout the process, Sally Ann was never entirely sure it would work out, until one day in late December, it finally did. “In the end, she got nearly everything she asked for,” explains Sally Ann. “She is earning far more than they initially offered, and with the new ties to an academic institution, she could easily get back on track for a professorship, if that’s what she eventually wants.”

With the contract signed by all parties, Sally Ann felt tremendous satisfaction. “It was an especially fulfilling placement for me,” she said. “The community desperately needs good physicians, and now, they are getting one of the best.”

“It’s just like it says in our mission,” Sally Ann continues, “We strive ‘to improve the lives of everyone we touch,’ and I really felt that with this placement. Not only will Dr. B’s life improve, but she will have a tremendous impact on the lives of everyone in that community.”

If you are looking for a better work/life balance or are ready to take the next step in your physician career, our team of recruitment experts is here to help. Get started now and search our 500+ physician job openings.

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[Infographic Guide] 7 Tips to Improve Physician Retention, Engagement, and Burnout

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Effective physician retention requires a multifaceted strategy that addresses clinical and cultural fit, new-hire orientation, retention benefits, physician engagement, leadership development, formal recognition, as well as physician burnout. Our recent Physician Retention Survey results suggest that many healthcare organizations are attempting to address some of these dimensions, but a large majority of physicians have deemed their efforts as mostly ineffective or, at a minimum, poorly communicated.

Also, because the survey results show that a number of physicians are considering leaving the practice of medicine entirely or are planning to retire earlier than previously planned, the projected physician shortage could grow at an alarming rate. It is incumbent on healthcare organizations to consider the impact it could have on their physician staffing plans and take appropriate action. In this infographic, we dive into seven things that healthcare organizations can address now in order to increase physician retention, improve physician engagement, and mitigate the negative effects of physician burnout.

1. Develop a Formal, Written Retention Program

Include the following in a formal, written retention program and share it with your physicians often:

  • Compensation and incentive plans
  • Call requirements balanced with generous time-off
  • Formal orientation and mentorship opportunities
  • Recognition programs
  • Physician leadership training

2. Customize the Orientation and Onboarding Program for Physicians

One in three physicians receives no formal orientation from their employer, which increases the risk of early turnover. A formal orientation program includes:

  • Intro to the facility’s culture, mission, and values
  • Opportunities to assimilate socially
  • Risk management policies and procedures
  • Productivity expectations outlined in a reasonable ramp-up plan
  • Resources for accounting, billing, credentialing, etc.

3. Know Which Benefits Your Physicians Value

Physicians rank compensation and additional time off as the most influential retention benefits. When physicians were asked which benefits their employer offers, 40% of them said, “None.” Consider other benefits, such as:

  • Reduced call
  • Leadership or research opportunities
  • Partnership track
  • Paid sabbaticals
  • Reduced administrative burdens

4. Prioritize Physician Engagement

69% of physicians say they are actively disengaged from their employer. To re-engage physicians, one-on-one, open communication is key. Start by asking questions, such as:

  • How can we better listen to our physicians?
  • Do physicians need more autonomy in how they practice medicine?
  • How do physicians feel patient care and facility operations could be improved?
  • What can leadership do to reduce the administrative burden?
  • Are the productivity targets reasonable?

5. Provide Physicians with Leadership Training and Opportunities

74% of physicians say their employer doesn’t offer any form of leadership training. This is a prime opportunity to increase engagement and long-term retention. Formalize a leadership training program that includes:

  • Online leadership courses
  • Attendance at national conferences
  • Formal training in business-related topics/practice management
  • MBA/MHA tuition reimbursement

6. Recognize Physicians for a Job Well Done

Only 23% of physicians say their organization has a formal recognition program. Yet, physicians feel more overworked and underappreciated for their dedication and personal sacrifice than ever before. Recognizing their contributions can counteract the risk of turnover. Consider the following:

  • Sincere act of appreciation from the c-suite
  • Opportunities for staff and patients to show gratitude
  • Annual recognition dinner
  • Physician of the month/year awards

7. Address Looming Physician Burnout

28% of physicians report that their organization offers no programs to help them deal with physician burnout. With widespread concerns about mental health during and post-pandemic, now is the time to initiate two-way conversations with physicians to learn how they’re coping and how you can help. Options include:

  • Wellness and mental health programs
  • Physician hotline
  • Paid leave
  • Professional coaching
  • Reduce sources of stress, i.e. administrative burdens

Visit our thought leadership page for more helpful presentations, case studies, and infographics.

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MGMA Poll Finds 72% of Practices Hiring Physicians: JPS President Tony Stajduhar Weighs In

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The Medical Group Management Association’s most recent MGMA Stat poll asked healthcare leaders, “Is your org planning to hire for new physician positions in 2021?”

  • 72% said yes.
  • 28% said no.

The poll was conducted March 9, 2021, with 1,063 applicable responses.

Among those who said “yes,” the most common physician specialties were:

  • Family medicine (31%)
  • OB/GYN (13%)
  • Orthopedics (11%)
  • Internal medicine (9%)
  • Pediatrics (8%).

Measuring the physician market

The market for physicians in 2021 was already defined by projected shortages in the coming years, as well as a string of unexpected retirements in the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other reasons, as noted in the March 2 MGMA Stat poll.

With more than one in four healthcare leaders reporting an unexpected physician retirement, the potential for hiring seems much higher in 2021 than in recent memory. In an average year, approximately 6% to 7% of the physician workforce changes jobs or location, according to Jackson Physician Search.

Read the Entire Article on MGMA.com

Need Help Recruiting Physicians, Physician Leaders, and Advanced Practice Providers? 

Jackson Physician Search is an established industry leader in physician recruitment and pioneered the recruitment methodologies standard in the industry today. The firm specializes in the permanent recruitment of physicians, physician leaders and advanced practice providers for hospitals, health systems, academic medical centers and medical groups across the United States. Headquartered in Alpharetta, Ga., the company is recognized for its track record of results built on client trust and transparency of processes and fees. Jackson Physician Search is part of the Jackson Healthcare® family of companies. For more information, visit www.jacksonphysiciansearch.com.

Why Physicians Suffer Silently Through Mental Health Challenges

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Fearful of professional consequences, some physicians may delay or decide against seeking the help they need to maintain optimal mental health – and the consequences can be devastating.

The death of Dr. Lorna Breen, an ER doctor at a Manhattan hospital, made headlines in April of 2020. “She was a casualty [of COVID-19] just as much as anyone else who has died,” her father said in the days following her tragic suicide. Though Breen had no history of mental illness, the endless days of treating, and often losing, COVID patients took a toll.

Dr. Breen’s death brings to light an undeniable truth. Physicians and other healthcare workers are suffering as a result of the pandemic. Those treating COVID patients on the frontlines have been overworked and are emotionally exhausted, leading to dangerous levels of physician burnout and, in some cases, even depression.

While burnout and depression are often discussed together, the two are not inherently connected – a topic recently addressed by the AMA VP of Professional Satisfaction, Christine Sinksy, MD. In an interview with AMA News, she noted that burnout is a syndrome caused by external work circumstances, while depression is a medical condition that is caused by a variety of factors, both biological and external. She also notes that while a significant percentage of depressed physicians are also suffering from burnout, only a small percentage of those who are experiencing burnout are clinically depressed.

Regardless of the correlation between burnout and depression, both take a toll on the overall well-being of physicians. Healthcare administrators increasingly recognize the need to offer various forms of emotional support, and yet, data suggests physicians are hesitant to get professional help. Healthcare must overhaul the stigma associated with physicians seeking professional mental healthcare. Dr. Breen’s death reminds us that the consequences of physicians coping alone can be deadly.

A Stigma That Leads to Silence

Despite increasing concerns about physician well-being, a survey by Jackson Physician Search, documented in the White Paper: On the Verge of a Physician Turnover Epidemic, found just 21% of physicians report access to mental health programs through their employers. Another 13% said their employer provides a physician hotline to address feelings of burnout. While a hotline is useful, this should be just one part of a multi-faceted mental health program that encourages participation by physicians. These numbers suggest the current offering is not enough to address the massive need.

Download the Physician Retention Survey Results

Even if mental health programs become more of a standard, simply establishing a program will do very little if the culture of an organization diminishes the need for care. All too often, physicians fear they will be seen as weak if others knew they were seeking care. For programs to be effective, physicians must feel encouraged to seek help.

In an October 2020 survey of emergency physicians, fewer than half of respondents said they would feel comfortable seeking professional help for feelings of burnout (let alone depression), and 73% reported a stigma in their workplace associated with seeking professional help. In the same survey, 57% of emergency physicians said they would be concerned for their job if they were to seek professional mental healthcare. Other studies reflect similar professional concerns.

Are these concerns just an extension of the aforementioned “stigma”? Or are physicians truly at risk of losing their licenses – or facing other professional consequences – if they seek help for mental health issues?

The “Cost” of Seeking Mental Health Care

A recent article written for the American Association of Medical Colleges notes that, for decades, state licensing boards have asked invasive questions about a physician’s mental health history. Physicians are all too aware that answering “yes” might set off a process that could put one’s ability to practice medicine at risk. While the American Disabilities Act protects physicians with a history of mental illness to some degree, the question alone stands as a deterrent to professionals in a high-pressure job who would benefit from the emotional support of a professional.

While licensing boards vary by state, most ask physicians, upon applying for or renewing a license, to disclose psychiatric treatment. A 2016 study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings reviewed licensure application and renewal forms in all 50 states to understand how medical licensure application questions impacted physicians’ willingness to seek mental healthcare. The study found 40% of physicians were reluctant to seek mental healthcare for fear of repercussions to their medical licensure. Only one-third of the states either did not ask about mental health issues or asked only about current impairment from mental health issues. The study found physicians living in states with questions related to mental health history were more likely to feel reluctant to seek treatment.

Of course, licensing concerns aren’t the only thing keeping physicians from seeking treatment. Many hospitals ask similar questions when physicians apply for credentialing. Psychiatric treatment may come up on applications for disability and malpractice insurance.

Evolving Views on Physician Mental Health

Fortunately, attitudes about physicians seeking treatment for mental health issues are evolving, albeit slowly. In 2018, the Federation of State Medical Boards issued updated recommendations regarding the scope of mental health questions on licensing applications and renewals. The recommendations extend to hospitals and healthcare organizations, suggesting they too revise, where necessary, the mental health questions asked in their credentialing processes.

As noted, however, the concerns felt by physicians run deep. Adjusting the questions on licensing and credentialing applications is just one part of the solution. For true change, there must be an overhaul of attitudes about physicians and mental healthcare. One organization fighting for such change is the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Foundation.

After Dr. Breen’s suicide in April of 2020, her family founded the organization to reduce burnout and safeguard the well-being and job satisfaction of healthcare professionals. One way they are doing this is through proposed bi-partisan legislation addressing the mental health challenges of those working in healthcare. The Dr. Lorna Breen Healthcare Provider Protection Act establishes grants for training, education, and awareness of mental health issues in healthcare professionals. It would also establish studies to identify evidence-based methods for reducing suicide and promoting mental health. The legislation is endorsed by a long list of healthcare associations including the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association.

Establishing an Effective Physician Mental Health Program

Organizations can work to overturn negative attitudes about physician mental healthcare by implementing robust mental health programs that encourage participation by all physicians. These programs should provide multiple channels and pathways for physicians to seek help.

The American Medical Association has published a comprehensive guide to caring for caregivers during Covid-19. The guide is continually updated and many of the suggestions and resources are applicable for supporting physician mental health beyond the pandemic as well.

Among other things, the guide suggests providing self-assessment tools, setting up a free, anonymous hotline, providing access to a meditation and sleep app, creating an online toolkit with links to available resources, and educating providers on their right to get help without persecution.

Perhaps most importantly, supervisors and leadership must consistently convey positive attitudes about the organization’s mental health program, continually reminding and encouraging physicians to make use of on-site resources available to them.

The AMA guide suggests managers conduct 5-minute debriefing sessions at the end of every shift to check in on mental health status. Counselors and therapists should be readily accessible for in-the-moment support, providing a direct pathway for more intensive support as needed.

Through STEPS Forward, the American Medical Association Online Education hub, practice managers and healthcare administrators can earn CME for modules focused on strategies to prevent physician burnout and build a culture that supports physician well-being.

A Standard Act of Physician Self Care

Legislation and programs addressing physician mental health are just part of the solution. These programs are part of a larger endeavor to create an environment where professional mental healthcare is a standard act of physician self-care.  Physicians face extraordinary levels of stress, and they should know that it’s not only okay to seek help, it is anticipated.

Certainly, the increased attention to the matter of physician mental health is working to shift attitudes, and hopefully, the next generation of physicians will not hesitate to utilize mental health programs offered by their employers or seek outside professional help when needed.

If your organization is seeking physicians who value a culture of well-being, Jackson Physician Search specializes in recruiting physicians who are both a clinical and cultural match. Contact us today to learn more.

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Five Mistakes to Avoid During Your Next Physician Contract Negotiation

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In the first installment of our three-part series on physician contracts, we outlined six of the components that make up an employment agreement. In the second installment, we highlighted aspects that are often negotiable and shared pro tips for doing it successfully. In this final installment, we will discuss five mistakes that physicians can quite easily avoid during a physician contract negotiation.

Mistake #1: Fly Solo

Your physician contract will probably contain more foreign words than the Histology text you learned in medical school. To be prepared for your contract negotiation, don’t fly solo. Rather, seek experienced counsel. While it is advisable to consult a lawyer with experience in the healthcare industry, at a minimum, have a physician mentor or an experienced colleague help walk you through the details.

Mistake #2: Not Knowing What is Most Important to You

What is most important to you is going to be different from that of other physicians who are negotiating and signing their employment contracts. The key is to have already determined which aspects of your agreement will have the greatest impact on your happiness. Even though it seems counter-intuitive to a newer physician who is saddled with enormous student loan debt, try not to make salary the most important factor. Other clauses might carry more weight in ensuring your success. Each clause of the contract has a role in advancing your career goals, well-being, and lifestyle. When you make it all about salary, you end up ignoring or discounting other things that matter in the long run.

Mistake #3: Ignore the Details

Don’t fall into the trap of ignoring or glossing over even the simplest of contractual clauses. For example, they want you to start on a specific date after ending your current commitment. So, everything works, right? Maybe. But what if you need a few extra days to pack up your things, tie up loose ends, and move 380 miles to the new place? Make sure your start date works for what you have to accomplish before starting the new role. You may even want to build in a little time for a family vacation. Another seemingly simple clause that can trip you up is the duration of the contract. Does it automatically renew year over year, or is it a fixed length? Some contracts may be written to be indefinite, which can cost you money if it isn’t revisited at some point.

Mistake #4: Gloss Over Job Expectations

You are being hired to be an XYZ physician. It’s not more complicated than that, right? If that is your mindset, it might get you into trouble. Your employment contract should clearly spell out your areas of responsibility. The language should expressly state your clinical expectations and the non-clinical expectations, such as medical records, phone calls, and administrative tasks. You should also understand what is expected of you in terms of training others, serving on boards, and even participating in research. Avoid agreeing to responsibilities that are described with vague statements, such as “will perform other duties as assigned.”

Mistake #5: Assume You Will Never Resign

For the millions of people who have read and now practice Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” the second habit speaks to envisioning the results of what you hope to achieve. When negotiating a physician contract, the end is just as important as everything in the middle. Unfortunately, it is mistakenly overlooked by many physicians. For example, when starting a new job, you aren’t naturally inclined to think about termination clauses. But, detailing how much notice you have to provide your employer before leaving, or they, before terminating you, should be considered. As a newly employed physician, you should have protections in place regarding the amount of notice you will receive before being terminated without cause. Other clauses that get overlooked concern how you may be impacted if the organization merges or is acquired by new ownership. In some cases, your contract continues uninterrupted under the new structure, but in others, it is terminated upon an ownership change. This scenario results in you having to find new employment or negotiating a new contract.  None of this is meant to throw cold water on the excitement of a new job but is common enough to warrant your attention.

Negotiating your next physician contract is a microcosm of your whole career. A successful negotiation and career require honest, open, and transparent communication. The foundation of any strong working relationship is your ability to communicate, and it all starts with your contract negotiation. As long as you are prepared and have a trusted confidant, this process should be smooth and stress-free. Having a positive experience will lay the groundwork for a long and productive career.

If you are a new physician or find you’re ready for a new job opportunity, Jackson Physician Search has an experienced team of recruitment professionals who can help you find the practice setting that is right for you. Contact us today and learn about the difference we can make in your job search.

Receive a Job Offer? Focus on These Aspects of the Physician Contract

It is always exciting to receive a new job offer as a physician. It is also the time when you are presented with the all-important physician contract…

Physician Contracts: Always Negotiate These Six Parts

If you are a new physician, the most important thing you should know about your physician contract is that it is negotiable. Even if it is your very first contract, you should not accept it “as is” without asking questions…

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JPS President Tony Stajduhar Featured in MGMA Article: COVID’s Toll on Physicians

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The Medical Group Management Association’s most recent MGMA Stat poll asked healthcare leaders, “Have you had a doctor retire unexpectedly in the past year?”

  • 28% said yes.
  • 72% said no.

Among the healthcare leaders who reported an unexpected retirement:

  • Nearly half (45%) said it was related to the pandemic:
    • 4% said a doctor retired after a COVID-19 diagnosis.
    • 41% said the retirement was pandemic-related, such as burnout, health risks, loss of reimbursement.
  • 30% said the retirement was based on non-COVID-19 health reasons.
  • 26% said “other,” which included at least one physician who left to pursue alpaca farming.

Continue to MGMA.com to read the full article, and learn more about:

  • The gap between physician supply and demand.
  • The disconnect between administrators and physicians.
  • Better engagement and retention strategies.

Read the Entire Article on MGMA.com

Need Help Recruiting Physicians, Physician Leaders, and Advanced Practice Providers? 

Jackson Physician Search is an established industry leader in physician recruitment and pioneered the recruitment methodologies standard in the industry today. The firm specializes in the permanent recruitment of physicians, physician leaders and advanced practice providers for hospitals, health systems, academic medical centers and medical groups across the United States. Headquartered in Alpharetta, Ga., the company is recognized for its track record of results built on client trust and transparency of processes and fees. Jackson Physician Search is part of the Jackson Healthcare® family of companies. For more information, visit www.jacksonphysiciansearch.com.

The Rippling Impact of Physician Burnout

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In a 2019 opinion piece for the New York Times, Dr. Danielle Ofri of Bellevue Hospital in New York, argues that “corporate healthcare” regularly takes advantage of the ethical commitment physicians and other healthcare providers feel toward their patients. When 15 minutes isn’t enough time for a sick patient, they extend the consult, ultimately extending their workday. Rather than leave patients without care, physicians work overtime when there is no coverage. They spend their time “off” dealing with insurance companies, updating charts from home, or answering emails, all in an effort to fulfill the desire that sent them to medical school in the first place – to help patients.

To quote Dr. Ofri, “This ethic holds the entire enterprise together. If doctors and nurses clocked out when their paid hours were finished, the effect on patients would be calamitous. Doctors and nurses know this, which is why they don’t shirk. The system knows it, too, and takes advantage.”

Of course, what Dr. Ofri describes as “exploitation” is not at all the intent of healthcare organizations. As the business of treating patients grows more and more complicated, healthcare systems increasingly struggle to find cost-effective ways to deliver quality care. As a result, the well-being of physicians and other staff is sacrificed, and physician burnout grows.

Increasing Levels of Burnout

No doubt, many physicians are overworked, a problem only magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic. A pre-COVID study cited in a 2020 JAMA article, found 44% of physicians experienced signs of burnout on a weekly basis. More recent studies indicate this number is increasing. A Medscape study published in September of 2020 reported 65% of US physicians experienced increased burnout as a result of the pandemic. An October 2020 survey of emergency physicians found 72% felt more burnout due to COVID-19.

Physician burnout is concerning for a number of reasons. According to the American Medical Association, physician burnout can have a significant impact on organizational productivity, morale, costs, and the quality of care being delivered. Physicians experiencing burnout are also more likely to retire early or leave their jobs.

In Q4 of 2020, Jackson Physician Search conducted a survey of physicians and administrators to understand their current views on physician retention and gauge how organizations are addressing the problem of physician burnout. The findings, reported in the White Paper: On the Verge of a Physician Turnover Epidemic, suggest the usual methods may not be doing enough to manage the problem.

Download the Physician Retention Survey Results

Why Administrators Cannot Ignore Burnout 

While the well-being of physicians is obviously important, healthcare administrators may not see their own actions as directly related to the problem, so they may focus attention on issues they see as more manageable. However, the impact of physician burnout can be felt throughout the organization in ways that may not be obviously related. When administrators acknowledge the far-reaching impact, they will understand that they can’t afford to ignore the problem.

Perhaps most alarming, multiple studies link physician burnout to increased medical errors. A 2018 study led by researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine found physicians with burnout had more than twice the odds of having made a major medical error in the previous three months. While the exact rate of impact varies depending on specialty and other factors, multiple studies show an association between increased physician burnout, decreased quality of care, and reduced patient satisfaction.

Studies also show that physicians experiencing burnout are more likely to leave their jobs. In a 2020 study by Medical Economics, 73% of physicians confirmed burnout had caused them to consider leaving their jobs. Administrators are all too familiar with the high cost of physician turnover at their organizations, and thus, most organizations have programs in place that attempt to address physician burnout in some capacity. However, are these programs effective?

How to Support Physicians Experiencing Burnout

The aforementioned Jackson Physician Search study asked both administrators and physicians about the types of programs used to address physician burnout at their organizations. Wellness programs were the most common answer given by both physicians and administrators, followed closely by mental health programs. Paid leave, professional coaching, and physician hotlines were other methods reported. Interestingly, administrators mentioned paid leave and professional coaching twice as often as physicians, suggesting physicians don’t see these benefits as methods for combating burnout. Physicians were twice as likely as administrators to mention the “physician hotline” as a way of addressing physician burnout.

The Jackson Physician Search white paper notes that the survey’s write-in comments reflected an overall sentiment that programs designed to combat burnout are lacking. Perhaps it is because they focus primarily on helping physicians deal with the stress, rather than striving to alleviate the stress itself. The problem is put on the physician to correct, suggesting the issue lies in the individual’s response to his or her circumstances. If the physician can only be tougher, or more resilient, they won’t suffer from feelings of burnout.

While it has been documented that resilience has an inverse relationship with burnout, that same study found that physicians already have higher levels of resilience than the general population. The conclusion was that increasing resilience is not the most effective means of managing the problem of burnout.

If one agrees with Dr. Ofri’s thesis that physicians experience burnout when they are overworked, it’s not surprising that wellness efforts and mental health programs would do little to address the issue if workloads are not also adjusted. A study in Behavioral Science concluded decreasing the administrative burden on physicians would go a long way toward lowering the levels of physician burnout. Other studies suggest factors such as payment reform, the improvement of electronic medical records, and even increased professionalism would improve the situation significantly.

There is certainly no simple, one-size-fits-all solution for physician burnout. Programs focused on helping the individual handle his or her circumstances are useful attempts to contain the problem, however, each organization should also consider the system-level practices that may be contributing, and where possible, take steps to improve the circumstances. These changes will not only benefit physicians, but organizations will see reduced medical errors, higher levels of patient safety, and lower recruiting costs.

If your organization concludes an increase in headcount is needed to reduce workload and combat physician burnout, the recruitment team at Jackson Physician Search is eager to help. Contact us today to learn more.

Four Ways to Improve Communication and Increase Physician Engagement

Hospital administrators know all too well the importance of physician engagement. Study after study confirms its significance, and yet, a troubling disconnect undoubtedly exists between physicians and the organizations that employ them…

New Survey Sheds Light on Physician Retention, Physician Engagement, and Physician Burnout

The great challenge for healthcare administrators is to develop an effective physician retention program that not only reduces physician turnover, but also increases physician engagement, mitigates burnout, and contributes to a positive workplace culture…

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Medscape Reports New Survey Shows COVID Tied to Big Turnover of Docs

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A Year of COVID Tied to Big Turnover Among Employed Docs: Survey

Expect more turnover among employed physicians, says Jackson Physician Search, a leading recruitment firm. And the turmoil in the field is at least partly due to the extra burden the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on clinicians, according to new survey data.

Based on survey responses from 400 practicing physicians and 86 administrators of healthcare organizations, a Jackson report finds that 54% of employed doctors are ready to make major career decisions. Of those physicians, 50% said they’re planning to switch employers; 21% are opting for early retirement, and 15% intend to quit medicine. The rest have other plans.

Thirty percent of the administrators said they’d already lost physicians during the pandemic. Coupling that with the physician responses to other questions, the Jackson report commented, “It appears a mass exit of talent is yet to come.”

(cont. on medscape.com)

Read the Entire Article on Medscape.com

Need Help Recruiting Physicians, Physician Leaders, and Advanced Practice Providers? 

Jackson Physician Search is an established industry leader in physician recruitment and pioneered the recruitment methodologies standard in the industry today. The firm specializes in the permanent recruitment of physicians, physician leaders and advanced practice providers for hospitals, health systems, academic medical centers and medical groups across the United States. Headquartered in Alpharetta, Ga., the company is recognized for its track record of results built on client trust and transparency of processes and fees. Jackson Physician Search is part of the Jackson Healthcare® family of companies. For more information, visit www.jacksonphysiciansearch.com.