How to Fight Physician Executive Burnout

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Healthcare experts often point to rising physician burnout as the root cause of broader industry issues such as high physician turnover, low retention rates, and long recruitment cycles. When burned-out physicians opt to leave their jobs, it can cost their employers millions in lost opportunity and recruitment expenses. The cost to patients can be even greater, as studies indicate that physicians suffering from burnout are more likely to make mistakes.   

The negative impact of physician burnout is clear, but physicians aren’t the only healthcare professionals suffering from the physical and mental exhaustion that characterizes burnout. According to a September 2022 MGMA Stat Poll, 80% of healthcare leaders, including physician executives, report increased stress or burnout over the previous year. In contrast, an MGMA poll from four years earlier found that less than half (48%) of healthcare leaders reported feeling burned out. Of course, after a global pandemic and widespread staffing shortages, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that healthcare executives report increased burnout. But while the industry acknowledges and attempts to address the problem of physician burnout, the impact of burnout among physician executives and other healthcare leaders is less clear. The question remains, how is burnout among these leaders impacting organizations, and what can be done to mitigate the problem? 

3 Ways to Mitigate Burnout Among Physician Executives

We know burnout drives physician turnover, so it follows that burnout among physician executives contributes to increased executive turnover. This certainly seemed to be the case earlier this year. The monthly Challenger CEO Report, which documents turnover among CEOs in the US, showed record numbers of hospital CEOs leaving their jobs in the first few months of 2022. Fortunately, those figures stabilized in the latter part of the year, and yet, the challenge of developing and retaining healthcare and physician leaders remains. In an industry plagued with financial, regulatory, and staffing challenges, attracting and retaining leaders who are willing and able to take on these obstacles is an ongoing problem. 

Healthcare leaders face monumental challenges that make it especially challenging to remain motivated and engaged. For this reason, organizations must find ways to better support physician executives and healthcare leaders, and the leaders themselves must employ strategies to ward off the feelings of fatigue, self-doubt, and lack of empathy associated with burnout. Keep reading for three areas of focus for individuals battling burnout.  

1. Prioritize Wellness (and Sleep)

With Millennials now accounting for more than a third of the workforce, the values associated with their generation, such as personal wellness, work-life balance, and collaboration, are increasingly important. This is true across industries, demonstrated by the rise of Chief Wellness Officers at organizations globally. The healthcare industry is not exempt from these shifting priorities. According to a joint Jackson Physician Search and MGMA study, Back from Burnout: Confronting the Post-Pandemic Physician Turnover Crisis, physicians rank work-life balance among the top factors contributing to job satisfaction. In a study exploring the impact of COVID-19 on the physician job market, recruitment leaders at Jackson Physician Search reported a spike in candidates entering a job search in search of a better work-life balance.  

What is true for clinical physicians is also true for physician executives and healthcare leaders. Time away from work is essential. Studies show that adequate sleep is also critical in battling burnout. In fact, a key takeaway from an American College of Healthcare Executive study in the Journal of Healthcare Management was the importance of sleep in the reduction of burnout.    

Takeaway: Healthcare leaders and physician executives must obtain adequate sleep and take advantage of paid time off and flexible schedules to counteract burnout. Organizations should incorporate wellness into the culture by offering flexible schedules, encouraging employees to take time off, and developing programs to improve the physical and emotional health of employees. 

2. Seek External Collaboration 

Healthcare leaders face significant challenges — financial, staffing, and regulatory. This is true for organizations large and small, urban and rural, private and public. Instead of fighting the battles from the silo of a single organization, leaders will benefit from exchanging ideas, sharing triumphs and failures, and collaborating with other organizations. The state of Michigan demonstrates how this type of collaboration improves patient care and lowers costs. According to a Harvard Business Review article, a consortium that began with five hospitals grew to include fifty organizations sharing information about how they treated cardiovascular disease. This transparency led to improvements in the quality of care and a reduction in costs, complications, and readmissions. The success of the BCM2 led to more collaborative quality initiatives in the state, where the costs of care are now among the lowest in the country. 

Michigan proves collaboration benefits the broader industry, but it follows that a collaborative approach to problem-solving would also benefit the industry’s physician leaders by alleviating pressure and expanding their toolbox. For this reason, collaboration is high on the list of ways to combat executive burnout.  

Takeaway: Don’t face challenges alone. With respect for your organization’s information-sharing policies, seek allies at competing organizations to identify mutual challenges and develop solutions. This collaborative approach to problem-solving — at both the individual and organizational levels — can help everyone involved keep feelings of burnout at bay. 

3. Embrace a Purpose and Growth Mindset

An analysis of the ACHE study noted that lower professional fulfillment scores correlated with higher levels of burnout, indicating physician executives and healthcare leaders who feel their work is meaningful are less likely to experience burnout. For this reason, it’s imperative that these leaders find ways to stay connected to their broader purpose and focus on the ways the work they do contributes to their communities. 

Self-valuation is also factored into an individual’s level of burnout. The study identifies self-valuation as a measure of one’s tendency to respond to personal imperfections with the desire to learn and improve rather than with self-disparagement. Individuals responding with the former, often referenced as a “growth mindset,” reported lower levels of burnout. 

Takeaway: If healthcare executives hope to avoid burnout, they must adopt a growth mindset and find ways to stay connected to their broader purpose. Organizations should develop a culture in which employees are encouraged to learn from failure. The mission and impact of the organization on the surrounding community should be woven into the culture as well. 

Healthcare leaders, including physician executives, have spent nearly three years facing unprecedented circumstances, not to mention the longstanding issues that plague the industry. Rising burnout among leaders, while not surprising, must not be dismissed. Just as physician burnout has a rippling impact on the broader industry, burnout among healthcare leaders is also detrimental. While the solution to burnout is complicated and requires organizational intervention, leaders who prioritize wellness, collaborate with peers, adopt a growth mindset, and reconnect with their purpose may fare better than their peers. 

If physician recruitment challenges are contributing to your stress and burnout, reach out to the Search Consultants at Jackson Physician Search to learn how we can alleviate the burdensome tasks of physician recruitment.

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5 Must-Haves for Successful Physician Executive Recruitment

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Healthcare is facing tremendous challenges — staffing shortages, financial concerns, physician burnout, and more — and the industry will need strong leadership to guide it through these unprecedented times. Increasingly, healthcare organizations recognize the value that physicians bring to healthcare leadership roles and are hiring more physician executives. However, not all physicians will be interested in or successful at serving as leaders, so it’s critical that organizations have a well-defined process for identifying and recruiting physician executive candidates. 

Recruiting physician executives requires organizations to first have a well-defined vision for the role, and second, a vast network of potential physician executive candidates. Of course, this network won’t bring value without a recruiter focused on reaching out to the most promising candidates. Organizations must also have a well-organized on-site interview process to successfully evaluate (and win over) the top candidates. And lastly, a physician executive recruitment partner with a record of success will ease and speed up the entire process. Keep reading to learn more about the five must-haves of physician executive recruitment.  

Why Physician Executives?

While studies are inconclusive about the impact a physician CEO has on a hospital’s quality, most recognize that physician executives bring a unique understanding of the challenges facing healthcare providers and the patients they treat, as they have faced those problems firsthand. This empathy allows them to make decisions with an understanding of the organization’s goals, as well as the needs of physicians and patients. Their experience in both the business of healthcare and the delivery of patient care makes physician executives the ideal liaison between providers and administration. 

As liaisons, physician executives have the best chance of smoothing relationships between physicians and leadership, two parties occasionally at odds. In fact, in a recent JPS-MGMA study, physicians ranked two-way communication with management as the most important factor in job satisfaction–above compensation. However, when asked to rate their employers in this area, just one in four said two-way communication at their organization was “good” or “very good.” Physician executives have the ability to improve in this area and positively impact physician job satisfaction at their organizations.  

1. Defining the Physician Executive Role

Physician executives may be tasked with improving communication between physicians and administration or have a completely different priority set, like creating and standardizing protocols across a network of hospitals. It depends on the purpose and function assigned to the role by the organization’s leadership. Each organization will have a different idea of what role their physician executives should play. 

According to Dirk Jansson, Director of Physician Executive Search at Jackson Physician Search, each physician executive role is as unique as the hiring organization. Some physician executives will serve as a manager, solving physicians’ issues as they arise and keeping the team aligned with the organization’s culture and mission, while other physician executives may be hired to be transformative leaders, creating the organizational culture and leading by example among physicians. 

“The first step in physician executive recruitment is defining the role,” says Jansson. “The organization must come to a consensus on the purpose and function of the position, as well as the skills, experience, and leadership style required for the role. An effective physician executive recruitment partner will help the client organization define a single vision for the role and help tailor a profile of the ideal candidate.”

A good physician executive recruiter will visit the organization and meet with stakeholders to understand each individual’s thoughts about the role. The recruiter will take all of the input and help the group prioritize the skills and experience required for the role. When everyone is in agreement, the recruiter will craft a physician executive job ad that emphasizes the required skills and experience and highlights the most attractive features of the job, the organization, and the location.      

2. A Network of Physician Executive Candidates

Like digital physician recruitment, physician executive recruitment may also benefit from the distribution of job ads via online physician job boards, email, and text campaigns to relevant candidates in a vast database, and of course, online physician communities such as Doximity. For high-level searches, the number of qualified candidates will be slim, but the larger your network, the more likely the right candidate is already within reach.

Dirk Jansson believes this is why working with a recruitment firm whose focus is on physicians benefits clients searching for physician executives. 

“Most healthcare executive search firms conduct a heavy mix of non-physician administrative searches, so their databases and resources are mixed,” he explains. “On the other hand, Jackson Physician Search has spent over 40 years strictly focusing on the placement of physicians and physician leaders across the country, so quite often, we‘ll find the successful candidate is already within our system.” 

3. Physician Executive Outreach

Because most physician executives aren’t in an active job search, sourcing candidates for physician executive roles also requires a proactive approach.  It’s not enough to distribute the physician executive job ad to the database and wait for applications, because most physician executives aren’t applying for jobs. However, a physician executive search partner can build a pool of candidates most likely to be aligned with and attracted to the role.  They will prioritize their outreach efforts toward these candidates, and in many cases, network with those targeted candidates to identify additional leads.   

“A strong executive search consultant might make 20 calls and come away with 40 leads,” says Jansson. “By leveraging a strong network, the recruiter can identify and reach out to the best matches and potentially gain access to others who may be a good fit as well.” 

4. Interviewing Physician Executive Candidates 

Due to the busy schedules of candidates at this level, not to mention those of the executives and board members who will interview them, coordinating on-site interviews can be challenging. Conducting first-round interviews virtually allows stakeholders to meet and get to know candidates without the complicated logistics of bringing them on-site. Ideally, leadership can leverage virtual interviews to narrow it down to two candidates, who will then be invited to spend time at the organization and meet with leaders face to face. 

Just as they do with physician candidates, organizations must carefully plan on-site visits for physician executive candidates to demonstrate the best parts of the job, the facility, and the town. Leadership must present a unified message about the function and purpose of the role and how it will fit in with broader leadership goals. Physician executive candidates need transparency from leadership so they have an accurate picture of their potential role in the organization. Only then can both parties determine if there is a good match. 

5. The Case for a Physician Executive Recruitment Partner

Physician executives have the potential to not only impact their own patients but the entire patient population of the communities they serve. They recognize the value of human capital, lead by example, and have the ability to shape the culture of the organizations they lead.

When the stakes are this high, organizations will improve their odds by investing in a dedicated physician executive recruitment partner that has spent decades building relationships with physicians and physician leaders. Over the course of 10,000+ permanent placements, Jackson Physician Search has developed relationships with physicians all over the country, at all stages of their careers. Many of the physicians we placed 5 or 10 years ago have now moved on to leadership roles. When they are ready to grow again, they turn to the recruitment firm that took care of them in the past for help finding new physician executive opportunities–and we are happy to assist them. 

In addition to providing access to a vast network of physicians, a successful physician executive search firm will also serve as an extension of your team. Most internal recruitment teams do not have the bandwidth to dedicate a recruiter to physician executive outreach, but this is exactly what it takes to identify the best physician executive candidates. Our physician executive recruiters can also streamline the interview and contract process to ensure the process is moving in accordance with the desired timeline.  

Summary

As healthcare administrators increasingly seek to hire physician executives at their organizations, they must have five things for successful recruitment: 1) a unified vision of the function and purpose of the role, 2) a vast network of potential physician executive candidates, 3) a team member dedicated to physician executive outreach, 4) a well-organized physician executive interview process, and 5) a strong physician executive recruitment partner to fill in the inevitable gaps among the previous four.

The JPS Physician Executive Search team has the experience, network, and expertise required to provide you with the physician executive recruitment support you need. Contact our team today to learn more.  

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6 Things to Include in Your Formal Physician Retention Plan

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Robert sighed when he saw the meeting reminder pop up on his screen. He knew when Dr. H requested the meeting that it wasn’t likely to be good news. Sure enough, when she entered his office holding an envelope, Robert could guess what the letter inside would say: “Due to current circumstances, I must tender my resignation…” 

Dr. H had made no secret that she was unhappy–the call schedule, her patient load, and difficulties with specific patients. Robert had met with her once or twice to discuss the issues, but there was little he could do to improve her circumstances. Until they could hire more physicians–which they were trying to do–the call schedule had to remain as it was. Everyone felt overloaded. Everyone had to deal with difficult patients. But Dr. H couldn’t accept this, and now that she was leaving, the circumstances would get even worse for the physicians who remained…but what could be done?

If this scenario sounds familiar, you are not alone. All over the country, physicians are tendering their resignations, leaving administrators scrambling to find replacements. However, while a replacement may stop the bleeding, it doesn’t eliminate the wound. So, while leaders are focused on recruitment, nothing is done to solve the problems driving physicians away. 

According to an August MGMA STAT poll, 40% of medical groups had physicians retire early or leave the practice in 2022 due to burnout. This figure grew from a similar poll conducted a year earlier, in which 33% of practice leaders reported physicians leaving. Certainly, the ongoing pandemic pressure, coupled with staff shortages and other challenges, is causing physicians to seek greener pastures at higher rates. Instead of merely recruiting to replace these departing physicians, healthcare leaders must develop a formal physician retention plan to address these issues if they hope to maintain or potentially grow their patient population and meet the healthcare needs of their communities. 

The Importance of Physician Retention Plans

A new whitepaper from Jackson Physician Search and MGMA, Back from Burnout: Confronting the Post-Pandemic Physician Turnover Crisis, documents the results of a study exploring the steps medical groups are taking to improve physician recruitment, engagement, retention, and burnout. According to their findings, despite the rising statistics on physician burnout and turnover, only 19% of administrators in the study said they have a formal physician retention plan, and only 8% of physicians think their organizations offer one. 

Among those administrators who report having a formal plan, nearly 8 in 10 say it is at least somewhat effective. Among physicians, 62% pointed to retention programs as somewhat or very important to their satisfaction, up from 59% in 2021. So why aren’t more leaders taking the time to create a formal plan to address one of the most pressing issues healthcare organizations face? Whether they don’t feel they have the time or don’t recognize the potential impact of formal retention plans, leaders must rethink their approach to retention plans and develop a written plan that outlines everything the organization does and plans to do to retain physicians at their organizations.  

6 Components of an Effective Physician Retention Plan

So, what does an effective physician retention program look like? While physicians at each organization will have unique needs, the JPS-MGMA research reveals the latest data on what is most important to physicians across the nation. While nothing on this list is likely to surprise you, it is important to formally address each issue in a written physician retention plan that is introduced to physicians during recruitment and revisited with physicians throughout their tenure.   

Develop a physician retention plan that addresses the following:  

Two-way communication with management — According to the JPS-MGMA research, two-way communication with management received the highest number of votes for the most important factor in physician job satisfaction. This was also true in 2021. This means providing a foundation of trust where physicians have regular access to leadership is critical to their satisfaction. So, commit, in writing, to providing those opportunities on a regular basis. Go beyond traditional one-on-one meetings and offer forums and panels to enhance discussions and improve transparency. Document these efforts as part of your physician retention plan. 

Detailed compensation information — Compensation was second on the list of factors contributing to physician job satisfaction. Of course, physicians want to be fairly compensated for their work, but due to the often complicated structure of physician compensation plans, they may feel left in the dark about how their paychecks are calculated. Document the details of the compensation structure in a written retention plan so that every physician knows exactly where they stand and what criteria they need to achieve in order to reach the next level.

Equity in workload — Physicians, like most people, want to feel that everyone they work with is carrying a fair share of the burden. In the JPS-MGMA study, “equity in workload” ranked #3 on the list of factors contributing to job satisfaction, with nearly half of respondents saying it is “very important.” To meet this need, be thoughtful, fair, and transparent about how things like new patient distribution, call schedules, and miscellaneous responsibilities are decided. Document these processes so there is no misunderstanding and reference it in the physician retention plan. 

Reduced administrative burden — Physicians want to treat patients, and yet, much of their time is spent on administrative tasks such as charting and other paperwork. In fact, some studies have found that physicians spend twice as much time doing administrative work as they do seeing patients. In multiple studies, physicians point to excessive administrative burdens as the source of their burnout, so organizations must find ways to improve in this area. In the aforementioned MGMA poll, some leaders report making improvements to EHR workflows and hiring scribes to help with notation. Document the ways leadership is committed to reducing administrative burdens and provide a process physicians should follow if they feel administrative duties reaching unacceptable levels. To retain physicians, leadership must prioritize keeping administrative burdens manageable. 

Additional time off — The importance of work-life balance is increasing among physicians of every generation, and physicians need time away from the stressors of work to recover and relax. In the JPS-MGMA study, time off was among the top five factors impacting physician job satisfaction. As part of an effective physician retention plan, detail the amount of time off physicians receive annually and the specifics of when their allotted time increases. In addition, consider offering medical mission opportunities or sabbaticals after a specified number of years. 

Strategic physician recruitment — When physicians are overworked, it is often due to the organization being understaffed. Comprehensive medical staff planning helps to project departures and anticipate growth, allowing the organization to begin the recruitment process long before a vacancy arises. As part of your physician retention plan, make a commitment to strategic physician recruitment. You should also be willing to leverage locums if necessary to keep the burden on your physicians manageable. 

Formalize Your Physician Retention Plan

You may find yourself reviewing this list and thinking, “Well, of course, these are important issues, and my organization is already working to improve in these areas.” However, while awareness and informal steps are a good start, documenting your commitments in a formal physician retention plan is important for 1) making physicians aware of your intentions, and 2) holding leadership accountable for following through on intentions. 

Knowing what needs to happen and taking steps to make it so are two different things. By documenting a formal, written plan to improve retention at your organization, all parties will know where they stand and what needs to happen to move the needle on this critical metric.  

If your organization is focused on recruiting physicians simply to keep up with attrition, it can be difficult to find the resources to think about a formal physician retention plan. Perhaps it’s time to partner with a national physician recruitment firm so that you can focus more on retention. Reach out to the team at Jackson Physician Search today.  

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The Importance of Building Trust with Physicians (And How to Do It)

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Dr. L was sitting down with his supervisor for the first time in four months. What was supposed to be a monthly one-on-one meeting had been rescheduled multiple times, but they finally found a time that worked for both of them. Dr. L was hoping to address several issues, and yet, he found himself holding his tongue as his manager outlined the various ways physicians would need to continue to “step up” for their patients and the practice. Dr. L wanted to take care of his patients, but he also knew his current workload was unsustainable. He thought this meeting, which he had waited months for, would be the right time to address the problem, and yet, it was clear his supervisor was not ready to hear it.

Dr. L’s supervisor isn’t cruel or oblivious. He can likely sense that Dr. L is feeling overworked, however, he prefers to avoid discussing the issue altogether rather than listen and have to explain that there are no easy solutions to the problem. What the supervisor doesn’t understand is that while those broader solutions are desperately needed, the first step toward easing Dr. L’s troubles is creating an atmosphere of trust where he can communicate his concerns and feel confident that leadership is working towards solutions. 

Physicians Prioritize Communication with Management

Overall, healthcare leaders are indeed working to find solutions to problems big and small. In August of 2022, Jackson Physician Search and MGMA conducted a study to understand what steps medical groups are taking to improve physician recruitment, engagement, retention, and burnout. The resulting whitepaper, Back from Burnout: Confronting the Post-Pandemic Physician Turnover Crisis, documents the results.

One notable finding of the joint study is the ongoing importance physicians place on two-way communication with management. For the second year in a row, physicians ranked this the most important factor in job satisfaction—above compensation. In fact, 85% of physicians said two-way communication with management was “very” or “somewhat important” to their job satisfaction. However, when asked to rate their employers in this area, just one in four said two-way communication at their organization was “good” or “very good.”

The Relationship Between Trust and Communication

Open communication with management is critical to a physician’s job satisfaction, and currently, most organizations aren’t meeting expectations in this area. Healthcare leaders must create an atmosphere of trust and transparency if they hope to improve communication with physicians and increase job satisfaction.

Unfortunately, trust in leadership is low among physicians. According to a survey commissioned by the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation, in 2021, 30% of physicians reported they do not trust their healthcare organizations’ leadership. Another 17% said they neither trust nor distrust their employer. What’s more, one-third of physicians said they lost trust in the healthcare system as a whole during the pandemic. 

This lack of trust is crippling communication between physicians and leadership, but it is detrimental to other aspects of the organization as well. According to research from Gallup, across industries, one in three employees would stay with their employer longer if leaders kept their promises, and when trust is high, organizations have 50% higher employee productivity. When employees trust their employer, 74% experience less stress and 40% report less burnout. Additionally, 96% of engaged employees trust management compared to 46% of disengaged employees.

So it seems, trust is not only the key to improving physician communication, but trust is also critical for improving engagement, retention, and burnout. Thus, establishing a foundation of trust has never been more important in healthcare organizations.

How to Build Trust and Foster Communication with Physicians 

How do you know if communication and trust are areas of concern at your organization? The first step is to evaluate the current level of perceived transparency among physicians and staff. A survey may be useful in gathering data, however, one-on-one conversations will provide more qualitative information. Pay attention to what’s not being said as well. In the meeting described above, Dr. L sat silent while his supervisor talked. Dr. L didn’t feel psychologically safe enough to speak frankly, and yet, his silence was the only indicator of this lack of trust. Is this happening in your meetings? Ask yourself other questions as well, such as: “When was the last time a physician came to me for help?” and “How often do I sit down one on one with physicians?” and “Who does most of the talking in my conversations with physicians?”  

Regardless of your answers, there is likely room for improvement. In the blog post, 4 Ways to Improve Communication and Increase Physician Engagement, we discuss the importance of talking to physicians, encouraging honesty, inviting participation and solutions, and measuring results. However, all of this requires a foundation of trust. The new JPS and MGMA whitepaper details five aspects of building “psychological safety” in your organization. Keep reading for an introduction to creating an atmosphere of trust that fosters communication. 

  1. Be accessible — Most organizations recognize the need for regular one-on-one meetings between physicians and leadership, but as was the case for Dr. L in the above scenario, those meetings are often the first to be rescheduled when conflicts arise. In addition to scheduled meetings, make yourself available in a more casual setting. Walk the hallways, get coffee in the break room, and otherwise create opportunities for physicians to approach you. 
  2. Invite participation — When the meetings do occur, make sure communication goes both ways. Ask the physician to bring a list of items to discuss and start with those before getting to your agenda. If the physician brings up a problem, encourage them to bring several potential solutions to the next meeting. Don’t wait for formal, one-on-one meetings to ask for input, make it a habit to ask open-ended questions and spend more time listening.    
  3. Display fallibility — Sometimes leadership implements policies or systems that don’t work. Occasionally, problems arise that aren’t handled well. Be able to admit when you’ve made a wrong turn and specify how you plan to correct the course. It’s much easier to forgive mistakes when the offender accepts culpability. 
  4. Fail forward — In addition to admitting your mistakes, learn from them. If you’re running into resistance on the new physician wellness program, figure out why. Perhaps you’ll discover that in-house yoga and a mental health hotline are not what physicians actually want or need to mitigate physician burnout. Accept the mistake and vow to listen more and discover what exactly they do want. 
  5. Set clear expectations — In your conversations with physicians, work together to set clear expectations and boundaries, and be prepared to hold people (including yourself) accountable. Physicians need to know that leadership notices when someone disregards the rules and there are consequences for transgressions. 

Of course, building trust takes time. Begin with scheduling and attending regular one-on-one meetings with your physicians. Encourage them to participate and listen to what they have to say with an open mind. Ask for solutions, and if possible, agree to try them. Acknowledge your mistakes and learn from them. Set clear boundaries and expectations for yourself and others, and then hold people accountable.

Focusing on these things will help you build trust within the organization and ultimately improve communication between physicians and management. By doing this, you will address a core need resulting in improved physician engagement, retention, and recruitment. 

If your organization is struggling to retain and recruit physicians, building an atmosphere of trust is a critical first step, but you’ll also need the advice and counsel of a national physician recruitment firm like Jackson Physician Search. Contact us today.

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[White Paper] Back from Burnout: Confronting the Post-Pandemic Physician Turnover Crisis Survey Results

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While the world saw tremendous gains in the fight against COVID-19 in the past year, challenges faced by the physician workforce — amid continuing staffing shortages — remain just as intense, pushing their levels of stress and burnout to new highs and worsening a turnover epidemic.

Before the pandemic and its myriad changes to healthcare, it was commonplace to see 6% to 7% of the physician workforce — approximately 50,000 doctors — change jobs or location. But with the rising toll of stress during the pandemic and staffing shortages, burnout is fueling physician turnover. MGMA Stat polling from August 2022 finds that four in 10 medical practices (40%) had a physician resign or retire early in the past year due to burnout.

To continue the connections we’ve forged with patients and communities, healthcare administrators must recognize the extent of this crisis, its sources, and proven strategies for remediation. “In this new normal, the demand for a shrinking supply of physicians will persist, making it crucial for practices to limit the damage via concerted efforts to reduce burnout and to strive for a positive work-life balance,” said Tony Stajduhar, president of Jackson Physician Search.

The results of the Physician Burnout, Engagement, and Retention Survey, commissioned by Jackson Physician Search in partnership with Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), point to an immediate need for healthcare leaders to redouble their efforts to address physician burnout after nearly three years of pandemic pressure compounded by staffing shortages and other challenges.

 

Introduction

Jackson Physician Search and MGMA surveyed physicians and administrators to understand their unique views on physician issues following the COVID-19 pandemic and recent staffing challenges. This survey sought to understand how healthcare organizations are trying to influence better physician recruitment, engagement, retention and mitigation of burnout, and how the clinical and administrative sides perceive these efforts.

This survey follows the 2021 Jackson Physician Search whitepaper, Getting Ahead of Physician Turnover in Medical Practices, with questions for physicians and administrators, such as:

  • What is the current level of physician burnout?
  • What is causing physician burnout?
  • What is the current level of physician engagement?
  • What is the current level of physician satisfaction with employers?
  • What matters most in physician retention?
  • What drives physician satisfaction with employers?

The survey was fielded in August 2022. Physicians and healthcare administrators were invited to complete an approximately five-minute survey. After qualitative interviews with administrators and physicians, key themes emerged:

  • Administrators acknowledge worsening levels of burnout in physicians, but physicians often don’t perceive enough is being done to mitigate that burnout or engage them.
  • Genuine, two-way communication between management/administration and physicians remains a top desire among physicians.
  • Administrators vary their approaches to retention and engagement, often with informal efforts rather than structured, strategic programs.
  • Organizations with physician retention programs found them effective in engaging doctors and preventing turnover.

This report presents the full findings from hundreds of healthcare leaders, shared in the hopes of amplifying the understanding between physicians and administrative leaders of the burnout crisis, the need for better engagement, and effective retention strategies that resuscitate the spirit and energy that brought so many hardworking clinicians into the field of healthcare.

Download the White Paper to Get More Insight Into Physician Burnout, Engagement, and Retention

 

For more information about how your healthcare organization can use the results of this survey to improve your physician recruitment and retention strategy, contact Jackson Physician Search today. Our team is made up of healthcare industry professionals who have spent decades recruiting physicians, physician leaders, and advanced practice providers for healthcare organizations coast-to-coast.

About Jackson Physician Search

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.

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[White Paper] Rural Physician Recruitment and Staffing Survey Results

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How to Lessen the Impact of the Healthcare Staffing Shortage On Your Organization

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The worst of the pandemic may be behind us, but the healthcare community continues to feel its impact on staffing. Of course, COVID-19 did not incite the healthcare staffing crisis, but it most certainly fanned the flames by adding to the stress on providers who were already stretched thin. As a result, providers are retiring in higher-than-expected numbers, switching jobs, or leaving the profession altogether. In an August 2022 MGMA STAT poll, 40% of medical practice managers said they had seen a physician retire early or leave the practice as a result of burnout. This figure is up from a similar STAT poll asked of managers a year ago, in which 33% said they had seen a physician leave due to burnout. 

While the reasons for the crisis are complex, the fact remains that healthcare organizations across the nation are facing healthcare staffing shortages of all types. In the most recent American College of Healthcare Executives’ annual survey, respondents cited staffing challenges as their number one concern, replacing financial challenges for the first time since 2004. Nurses, technicians, and therapists were the areas of most pressing concern, followed by primary care physicians and specialty physicians. Another MGMA STAT poll from September 2022, found 58% of medical practice managers say staffing is the biggest concern heading into 2023.

The industry is in the midst of a crisis, and yet each organization is battling it alone — competing with each other to attract and retain talent. What strategies are working to address staffing shortages? And what can you do at your organization to ease the pressure on the staff you do have? Keep reading for 5 ideas to lessen the impact of the staffing shortage on your organization. 

Financial Incentives

While throwing money at the problem may not seem like the most creative approach, there are ways to creatively use compensation to make physician jobs more attractive. Many organizations are offering flexible recruitment bonuses to be used for loan repayment, housing assistance, or other needs. Of course, compensation can also be used to persuade your current staff to stay. Physicians may respond to retention bonuses that reward the additional work and stress they’ve taken on in recent years.

In a recent JPS survey, physicians overwhelmingly ranked “increased compensation” first when asked what would motivate them to stay with their organization for another 5 or more years. So, while healthcare providers certainly care about more than compensation, it still plays a significant role in their recruitment and retention.    

Lifestyle Improvements

One crucial aspect to recruiting and retaining healthcare workers is lessening the job’s negative impact on well-being. The pandemic caused workers in every industry to reevaluate the way they were spending their time, and in many cases, people came to the realization that their jobs were not bringing happiness or fulfillment. This was especially true in the healthcare industry, where the stress of the pandemic was disproportionately felt, causing healthcare providers of all types to seek jobs with lower stress and a better work-life balance.   

Organizations must find ways to offer exactly this — less stress and more balance. In the aforementioned JPS survey, the second most common response to the question “What would motivate you to stay with your employer for the next 5 years?” was “the ability to work part-time or have a flexible schedule.” From 4-day work weeks and flexible schedules to work-from-home options and unlimited paid time off, employees increasingly expect their employers to offer benefits that promote work-life balance. 

When Possible, Outsource 

Study after study points to administrative burdens as a primary cause of physician burnout. What administrative tasks are your physicians doing that could be outsourced or delegated? Of course, the salary of a scribe or medical transcriptionist may not be in the current budget, but if it can prevent one or more physicians from leaving, it will be well worth it compared to the cost of a physician vacancy. What other burdensome tasks could be outsourced or delegated to improve the well-being of your staff? 

Leverage Technology

Technology provides one of the most tangible ways of addressing the staffing crisis and offers a multitude of options for relieving staff at every level. Perhaps making the greatest impact is telehealth technology, which allows physicians and APPs to treat patients from anywhere, partner with providers in other locations, and see more patients with less time between appointments. 

Technology may also be used to speed onboarding, training, or CME. Software that logs patients’ questions and requests may decrease the amount of time physicians spend responding to individual patient calls. Organizations can also leverage their websites and social media channels to address frequently asked questions and provide patient education on common topics such as vaccines and the community’s spread of flu and other viruses. Even small optimizations like this can make a big difference.  

Identify a Recruitment Partner

Organizations facing staffing shortages also need a permanent physician recruitment partner to serve as an extension of your team. A full-service physician recruitment firm can help you create a recruitment timeline based on your medical staffing plan and provide market data on time-to-fill for various physician specialties. Recruiters may even have creative alternatives for those positions that seem impossible to fill.     

Staffing shortages are impacting organizations of all types, sizes, and locations. In order to lessen the negative impact on your organization, it’s critical that you consider employing some of the ideas listed here — financial incentives, lifestyle improvements, outsourcing, technology, and a recruitment partner. If you are ready to move forward with the latter, the team at Jackson Physician Search can offer powerful expertise and an action plan to help you meet your staffing goals. Contact us today.

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Need Help Recruiting Physicians?

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3 Ways to Support and Retain Women Physicians

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Dr. B stared blankly at her patient as she considered his comment: “I just think I’d like to hear a male doctor’s opinion if you don’t mind.” Well, actually she did mind. In fact, she minded a little more each time she heard it–or some variation of the same comment. Hadn’t she gone to medical school just as long as her male colleagues? Worked as many hours in residency? Treated three times as many patients as some of her younger male peers? But Dr. B didn’t say any of that. Instead, she left the room and moved on to her next patient. 

You may read this story and think, surely, this sort of thing doesn’t happen anymore–at least not in my organization. Perhaps you’re right, but according to an article for the AMA, 70% of women physicians reported experiencing some form of gender discrimination. Whether it’s coming from a patient who assumes she’s a nurse, a manager pushing back on her maternity leave, or a peer talking over her in a meeting, discrimination against female physicians is not as uncommon as most of us would hope. 

According to a January 2022 article from Harvard Business Review, women physicians are also dealing with higher rates of burnout, lower levels of professional fulfillment, and higher rates of depression than their male peers. So perhaps it’s not hard to imagine that as physician turnover increases, women may be more likely than men to be among those changing jobs, cutting their hours, or leaving the profession entirely. 

The trend is especially concerning when you consider that women make up one-third of the physician population, and they outnumber male students in medical school. As female representation increases in medicine, this trend will cause an already dire physician shortage to get significantly worse.

Even before the pandemic, studies documented that women were more likely than men to leave the profession or decrease their hours. So the question is not if they are more likely to leave, but why? And what can be done to prevent them from leaving? 

Why Are Women Leaving Medicine?

The aforementioned article from Harvard Business Review explores precisely this question. The authors cite evidence to suggest medicine takes a greater toll on women for multiple reasons: 1) Women spend more time with patients and more time charting than men, 2) They have more obligations outside of work than their male peers, and 3) They receive less recognition, respect, and compensation for their efforts. Consequently, many female physicians would not choose the career again nor would they recommend it to a prospective medical school student.

It doesn’t have to be this way. By identifying–and addressing–the unique challenges women physicians face, employers can improve the female physician experience, increase retention rates, and take a critical step in combating the worsening physician shortage.   

How to Support Women in Medicine 

Work-life balance, equity, respect. While all physicians need these things, the data indicates women are more likely to report dissatisfaction in these areas, likely contributing to the elevated turnover among female physicians. Employers must adequately respond to the specific challenges women in medicine face by taking steps to improve in the following areas: 

1. Improve Work-Life Balance

The importance of work-life balance appears to be increasing with each new generation, but for women especially, who spend more time on non-professional work outside of the office, work-life balance often continues to be out of reach. The pandemic worsened the problem, with one study showing women physicians were more than 30 times as likely to be responsible for childcare and schooling during that time. Employers that recognize this challenge and offer ways to help women achieve their ideal work-life balance will be more likely to retain those physicians.

The ideal work-life balance looks different for everyone, so talk to your physicians–male and female–about what is most important to them. Some may prioritize a more flexible schedule, but here too, what is ideal will vary for each individual. Whether it’s a 4-day work week, 7 days on / 7 days off, job sharing, part-time, or working telehealth or admin days at home, employers must recognize that a flexible schedule is just that–flexible–and if they hope to improve work-life balance, employers will need to offer a variety of options. 

Of course, work-life balance isn’t only about the schedule. Providing increased administrative support can do wonders to improve a physician’s experience at work. Hiring a medical scribe to help with charting and other administrative burdens, will put precious hours back in a physician’s day.

2. Commit to Equal Pay and Opportunity

According to a December 2021 study published in Health Affairs, male physicians earn an average of $2 million dollars more than women over the course of a medical career. Additionally, women receive fewer awards, are invited to speak less often, are published less frequently, and hold fewer leadership roles. Studies suggest the COVID-19 pandemic worsened these disparities.

Organizations should commit to pay transparency and productivity models that factor in the nuances of treating different types of patients. The HBR article points out that female physicians are more likely than men to treat female patients, whose preventative care (pelvic and breast exams) require longer visits. Risk-adjusted panel payments should take these complexities into account.

Employers should also pursue diversity in leadership and ensure women have equal access to current leaders and the opportunity to train and learn from them. Develop a leadership program specifically for women and assign female mentors when possible. Additionally, provide coaching for male leaders and physicians so they learn to identify and overcome their own unconscious bias.

3. Increase Support and Respect

There’s no doubt that practicing medicine today is not easy for anyone. However, studies indicate the job may take a greater toll on women. Not only do women have a harder time decompressing outside of work, they often spend more time with patients, more time charting, and may experience more empathy for patients than their male peers. While some studies suggest these qualities may result in better outcomes, they can also take a greater toll and lead to higher rates of burnout. 

The solution here mirrors the prior points. Flexible schedules, help with administrative burdens, and a mentorship program will go a long way to decrease the toll practicing medicine takes on women. Show further support by encouraging them to take time off, pursue hobbies, or get involved with a charity–anything to help them disconnect from the stress of practicing medicine. 

And finally, in addition to your support, women physicians need your respect. Show it to them by asking questions and including them when making decisions.    

Taking steps to address these challenges will not go unnoticed by your women physicians. By providing improved work-life balance, equal opportunity, and increased support, you will lift job satisfaction, improve retention rates, and ease the impact of the physician shortage. 

If your organization is seeking physicians or advanced practice providers to support your current team, the Jackson Physician Search Recruitment team is happy to offer our expertise. Contact us today.

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

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

[Whitepaper] Getting Ahead of Physician Turnover

This whitepaper explores the results of a joint study by MGMA and JPS investigating physician recruitment, engagement, retention, and succession planning…

Need Help Recruiting Physicians?

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Why Every Rural Healthcare Organization Should Recruit Advanced Practice Providers

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The 2022 Rural Physician Recruitment and Staffing Survey from Jackson Physician Search and LocumTenens.com gave rural organizations yet another reason to feel optimistic about their physician recruitment efforts. The data indicates 90% of physicians are open to rural opportunities if the conditions are well-aligned with their most important wants and needs.

While it’s certainly encouraging that physicians appear to be more open to rural opportunities than they have been in the past, the demand for care is also intensifying–putting increased stress on rural physicians.

Fortunately, rural healthcare organizations do not have to depend solely on full-time physicians to serve their communities. The aforementioned study found advanced practice providers (APPs) are also increasingly open to rural job opportunities.

While nearly half of rural healthcare organizations already employ at least one APP, this new data suggests organizations should consider expanding their care teams with a mix of physicians and APPs. A well-balanced rural staffing mix ensures patients have adequate access to high-quality care without overloading providers and putting them at risk for burnout, while also potentially reducing the cost of care.

If your organization needs additional clinical providers, keep reading to learn more about the many benefits APPs can bring to your community and to your facility.

Rural Healthcare Organizations are Already Utilizing Advanced Practice Providers.

According to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures, non-physician primary care providers such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants make up 46% of all providers at rural, federally qualified health centers. As mentioned, other data shows nearly half of all rural primary care practices employ at least one NP, and one in four rural healthcare providers are nurse practitioners.

Takeaway: Citizens in rural communities are already receiving care from advanced practice providers and are not likely to resist the addition of non-physician providers if it means easier access to care. In fact, a full 11% of patients in rural areas were seen exclusively by these providers.

Advanced Practice Providers are Eager to Work in Rural Medicine.

Advanced practice providers in the 2022 rural survey were highly likely to say they would consider practicing in rural locations on a full-time, permanent basis or as a locum tenens provider. As for what conditions would motivate them, like physicians, the most common answer was ”higher compensation, bonuses and benefits” followed by “the ability to work part-time or work flexible hours.”

Advanced practice providers in the survey were nearly three times as likely as physicians to say the opportunity to use telehealth would prompt them to consider a rural job (45% vs. 17%). They were also more likely to be motivated by loan repayment (43% vs 18%) and the chance to spend more time with patients (33% vs. 15%).

Takeaway: Advanced practice providers are attracted to high compensation and flexibility, but the chance to use telehealth and/or loan repayment may help to seal the deal. 

Advanced Practice Providers Proved Their Value Long Ago.

The COVID-19 pandemic created an urgent demand for healthcare services for which the US was unprepared. In response to the shortage of healthcare providers, federal COVID-19 legislation broadened the scope of practice for advanced practice providers, where it was also permitted by the state. Nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other APPs were ready to answer the call, and now, some say their success is proof the expansion should be permanent.

Regardless of the scope of practice debate, few would dispute the importance of advanced practice providers in the delivery of patient care. Whether working independently or alongside a physician, advanced practice providers increase access to care, while easing the burden on physicians and increasing revenue at healthcare organizations. It’s been reported that APPs bring significant cost savings to an organization—up to 30%.

Takeaway: It may be time to rethink what healthcare delivery looks like at your organization. APPs are trained to perform many of the same duties as physicians, often at a lower cost. They have the potential to be a key part of the healthcare staffing mix at any organization. 

Care Teams with Physicians and APPs Promote Work-life Balance.

For COVID-weary healthcare providers, work-life balance has never been more important. In the 2022 rural survey, both physicians and APPs ranked “improved work-life balance” among the top three factors that would prompt them to consider practicing in a rural location.

Better work-life balance is certainly in reach with a team-based approach to healthcare delivery. The presence of APPs allows for more flexibility in scheduling, providing better work-life balance for all providers. A collaborative care team where everyone performs to the full extent of their training will free up physicians to focus attention where most needed, give advanced practice providers appropriate autonomy, and help to mitigate burnout among all providers all while improving healthcare outcomes within a community.

Takeaway: What was once the responsibility of one, overworked physician might now be shared between a physician and nurse practitioner or a nurse practitioner and physician assistant under the supervision (if required) of a practicing physician. A flexible staffing mix will expand your candidate options and make your organization more attractive to potential candidates as you recruit.  

Technology Facilitates Well-balanced Clinical Care Teams. 

COVID-19 expedited the adoption of telehealth even in rural communities. According to a report from Rural Health Information Hub, though there are still barriers to usage, the adoption of telehealth is increasing in rural areas. The report goes as far as to say that the use of telehealth to provide specialty services is more feasible than staffing rural organizations with specialty and subspecialty providers. Thus, telehealth allows organizations to expand care teams to include physicians working remotely. An on-site APP may work virtually with an off-site specialist to coordinate patient care.

Takeaway: Telehealth and virtual meetings enable a team-based approach to healthcare that eases staffing challenges and expands access to care. 

Advanced Practice Providers Create Stability Within the Care Team.

Half of the advanced practice providers who responded to the 2022 rural study said they planned to work at least 16 more years before retiring. This suggests the potential for longevity and consistency when incorporating APPs into your rural healthcare staffing mix. This is especially pertinent considering that 2 in 5 physicians are nearing retirement, with the figure being even higher in rural healthcare.

APPs are also more likely to have ties to a rural community. Among the survey respondents, 38% had grown up in a rural community and 33% said they had extended family in the same area they work.

Takeaway: Advanced practice providers are less likely than physicians to be nearing retirement and are more likely to have roots in rural areas. Thus, it may be easier to attract advanced practice providers to your rural location, and once you do, they are likely to stay for a longer tenure, bringing stability to the care team and your patients.

Leveraging Locum Tenens Providers Ease the Burden for All. 

The occasional addition of a locum tenens provider on your care team allows providers to take time off, whether for an extended vacation or family leave, without disrupting patient care or placing additional burdens on existing members of the care team. Though administrators may worry about the expense of a locums provider, the benefits of maintaining patient access to care and keeping provider workloads stable typically outweigh the cost.

The other benefit of locum tenens usage is that it may serve as a recruitment tool. The Jackson Physician Search and LocumTenens.com rural physician recruitment and staffing survey found a majority of both physicians and advanced practice providers would be interested in trying out a rural location as a locums provider. If the experience is positive, they may be willing to stay.

Takeaway: Adding a locums provider to care teams when needed keeps both patients and providers happy. It may also serve as a “trial” for a provider undecided about whether or not rural practice is for them.

If your organization is struggling to recruit physicians or to meet growing patient demand, it is advised to strongly consider incorporating advanced practice providers into the staffing mix. For more details about how to formulate an effective recruitment strategy, please download our latest survey results.

If your rural health organization is considering adding a physician or advanced practice provider to your staffing mix, the Search Consultants at Jackson Physician Search would be happy to help. Contact us today.

advanced practice provider

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Need Help Recruiting Physicians?

Click the Get Started button if you’re ready to speak with one of our physician recruitment experts.

Finding the Why: Consider Generational Differences to Improve Rural Physician Recruitment Results

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Rural healthcare organizations saw an early “silver lining” from the global pandemic in that an increasing number of physicians, burned out and exhausted by the stress of COVID-19, expressed interest in rural physician jobs. In the Jackson Physician Search whitepaper on how COVID changed the physician job market, several recruitment leaders noted the influx of physicians seeking jobs in small towns, expressing a desire to be closer to family or to find what they hoped would be a slower pace of life.  

Physicians seek jobs in rural medicine for a number of different reasons, and a new Rural Physician Recruitment and Staffing Survey from Jackson Physician Search and LocumTenens.com suggests those differences often fall along generational lines. By discovering what each generation is likely attracted to about rural medicine, rural healthcare organizations can capitalize on the surge of interest and more effectively market to physician candidates at every stage of life.  

Best Practices in Generational Targeting  

Marketers have long used generational targeting to strategically engage with consumers in every age demographic. While caution is needed when making broad generalizations, where the data shows similarities, savvy marketers will target their messaging to appeal to that segment.   

It follows that marketing physician jobs to specific generations, where the data shows similarities, could be a savvy physician recruitment tactic. So, what does the data say about what each generation wants in a rural job? The JPS and LocumTenens.com survey explores the employment needs and wants of Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millenials in an attempt to answer this question.  

Approaching Retirement, Baby Boomers Seek Flexibility & Patient-focused Culture

At 63, Dr. T knows retirement is just around the corner, and yet, as much as his wife would like him to retire, he doesn’t feel quite ready. Of course, he’s tired of long hours at the hospital and speeding through patient visits, but if he could find a job that would allow him to scale back his caseload, maybe even work part-time, he thinks he and his wife could both be happy–for another 5 years at least.  

Nearly half (48%) of all Baby Boomers will retire in fewer than five years, and another third will retire in six to ten. Physicians of this generation have worked 30+ years, adapted to multiple phases of healthcare reform, and now endured a global pandemic. It’s fair to say, they are ready to slow down–though not necessarily retire. In fact, 44% say the ability to work part-time or have flexible hours would motivate them to stay at their current organization for another five years. But what would they need to consider a rural physician job? 

Interestingly, Baby Boomer physicians are most likely to already practice rural medicine. Many chose the opportunity because of the flexibility and the opportunity to spend more time with patients. The desire to work for a patient-focused organization is strongest with this generation, and the perception that rural physician jobs allow more time with individual patients is part of the draw.  The ability to work fewer hours–or perhaps part-time–is also attractive for physicians wanting to ease into retirement. 

Tips for Recruiting Baby Boomers: 

Does your rural position come with flexible hours? Is your organization focused on the patient? Assuming the answer to both questions is “yes,” promote these facts at every stage of the recruitment process–highlight it in the physician job posting, discuss it during the phone interview, and have the physicians they meet during the on-site visit reinforce these qualities by sharing stories of their own flexible schedules and quality interactions with patients.     

Gen Xers Want Better Personal and Professional Fulfillment

For Dr. M, retirement is still a distant idea–a finish line at the end of a still-long road ahead. She took a job with her current employer six years ago when they made an offer she couldn’t refuse. But now, at 49, she’s not sure the competitive compensation is enough to justify the long hours, demanding patients, and constant stress. With two kids in college, she can’t afford an early retirement, but unless something changes, she’s not sure she’ll last another 15 years.

The JPS and LocumTenens.com survey found Gen X physicians to be the least fulfilled–both professionally and personally. They’ve spent the better part of their lives pursuing a medical career, and now, as their children begin to leave the nest and they consider the next phase of their lives, they may be second-guessing what it was all for. They may question the impact they’ve had on their patients and wonder if they could have chosen a path with greater influence. Or perhaps they imagine who they might have been if they had made time to pursue other interests–and wonder if it’s not too late to try. 

There could be many reasons to explain Gen X’s lack of fulfillment, but the “why” is less important than the “what” they can do about it. Rural physician jobs typically offer higher levels of physician autonomy, improved work-life balance, and more time with patients–all factors likely to improve physician job satisfaction and fulfillment. Of course, with kids in college or nearing college age, competitive compensation is still a must, and rural medicine ticks this box as well. 

Tips for Recruiting Generation X:

If your rural physician job offers a healthy work-life balance, physician autonomy, and competitive compensation, emphasize these qualities at every interaction with candidates. As you learn more about a candidate’s professional goals and personal hobbies, help them envision a life in your community where they can both make an impact professionally and still have time to explore personal interests. 

Family-focused Millennials Need Work-Life Balance 

Hired out of fellowship by his current employer, Dr. J and his wife, also a physician, work long hours for their respective organizations. While they have been mostly happy these past four years, they know their current schedules won’t be sustainable when they start a family. Still, with double the student loan debt of most couples, they can’t afford for one of them to go part-time. They are willing to make some big changes in order to create the life they want for their future family, but will they consider rural medicine? 

It won’t take decades of working long hours for Millennials to recognize the value of work-life balance. In fact, they place more importance on work-life balance than any other generation. They have grown up with messaging about the importance of self-care, and as a result, they aren’t afraid to prioritize their own mental health. That said, the weight of student loan debt is heavy on this generation, and they can still be swayed by big bonuses or the promise of loan repayment.

Rural physician jobs may be the answer to Millennial physicians’ desires for a healthy work-life balance, flexibility, a family-friendly community, and of course, competitive compensation. An opportunity that also presents leadership opportunities and promises them a voice in the decision-making process is likely to keep them there long-term.  

Tips for Recruiting Millennials:

Millennials are most likely to be in an active job search, so find ways to connect with them online through social media and email. Emphasize the healthy work-life balance the job allows, and help them imagine a life in your family-friendly community. Keep in mind that nearly 1 in 5 Millennial physicians is married to another physician, so get creative in thinking about how a physician spouse might fit into your organization or that of a neighboring community.

Putting Generational Targeting Into Practice

It’s likely your rural physician job has attributes that would appeal to all three generations. So, should you choose a few to emphasize and focus on targeting one demographic? Only if you want to limit your candidate pool! The better option is to partner with a national physician recruitment firm with a vast database of physicians of every age and specialty. At Jackson Physician Search, we are able to create multiple versions of a single job posting to target specific segments of the physician audience. The digital marketing magic doesn’t stop there. Through social networks, email, and paid advertising, our search consultants and marketers ensure the physicians you want to reach notice the parts of your job that they’ll find most attractive–and most likely to persuade them to apply. 

Still not sure how generational physician recruiting works? Contact a JPS Search consultant today and they’ll be happy to share more. 

5 Ways to Improve Physician Satisfaction…Before It’s Too Late

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[White Paper] Rural Physician Recruitment and Staffing Survey Results

We surveyed physicians currently working in urban, suburban, and rural settings to better understand their specific needs and wants in regard to choosing to practice in a rural location…

Need Help Recruiting Physicians?

Click the Get Started button if you’re ready to speak with one of our physician recruitment experts.

[White Paper] Rural Physician Recruitment and Staffing Survey Results

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A new survey from Jackson Physician Search and LocumTenens.com – both part of the Jackson Healthcare family of companies – shows hope for rural healthcare organizations to make progress in resolving their physician staffing challenges.

We surveyed physicians currently working in urban, suburban, and rural settings to better understand their specific needs and wants in regard to choosing to practice in a rural location. When those in urban and suburban locations were asked what factors might influence their choice to practice in a rural location, only 10% said they would not consider a rural location at all. The reality that 90% would consider rural practice if the conditions are well-aligned is welcomed news. Interestingly, 72% of urban and suburban physicians reported they would be open to considering ‘trying out’ rural medicine via a locum tenens assignment. Not only does this strategy fill gaps in coverage in the short run, but it could present another path towards permanent recruitment.

This report includes:

  • Physicians’ sentiments on what they want in a permanent rural opportunity
  • Physicians’ views on rural locum tenens and recommendations for its strategic use
  • A snapshot of how COVID is impacting physician retirements and rural recruitment
  • Tips to more efficiently and effectively recruit physicians to rural healthcare by addressing key generational differences when marketing job opportunities

 

State of Rural Healthcare

The U.S. continues to face a severe physician shortage, and unfortunately, the impact of this is often multiplied in rural communities. Around the country, “healthcare deserts” exist, meaning that people who live in rural locations – a disproportionate number of whom live under the poverty level and in poorer health – often must travel long distances to seek anything from routine care to treatment for chronic conditions.

According to the National Conference of State Legislators, “Approximately one-fifth of the nation’s population lives in a rural area, but only about 10 percent of the nation’s physicians are located there. This is considered to be one reason rural Americans have higher rates of death, disability and chronic disease than their urban counterparts.” And, of the 7,200 federally designated health professional shortage areas, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) reports that 60% are in rural areas. A few trends are converging to make the challenge of recruiting and retaining physicians for rural healthcare positions even more challenging:

  • Physician retirements are imminent, with 40% of active physicians across the nation reaching age 65 within the next decade. Compounding this anticipated exit is the reality that the percentage is even higher in rural areas.
  • The Great Resignation is likely to hit rural areas hard. According to Jackson Physician Search’s own research in mid- 2021, 43% of the physicians surveyed said they were considering early retirement and 46% said they were considering leaving for a new healthcare employer. This particular study addressed physicians working in all geographic areas, rural included.
  • Rural-raised medical students have sharply declined, while overall medical school enrollment has increased. A 2019 study found that fewer than 5% of incoming medical school students came from rural areas. This is significant because we know that these are the ones most likely to practice in rural areas.

Every signal we’re receiving from both physicians and administrators tells us that it’s time to shake up the status quo in how rural healthcare organizations approach physician recruitment. If we’re going to realize the goal of creating better access to healthcare and improved health outcomes for rural Americans, then healthcare leaders need to reimagine how they source, recruit and retain physicians.

With that in mind, Jackson Physician Search and LocumTenens.com fielded this new research in October 2021, asking 1,311 physicians, 169 administrators, as well as 158 advanced practice providers, a series of questions to better understand the specific dynamics of working in rural, urban and suburban healthcare settings and what could be done to entice more providers to go rural. Of particular interest is sentiment broken down by the needs and desires of physicians by each generation, and our recommendations for recruitment and retention that take these differences into account.

With a focus on learning what it would take to increase the success of physician recruiting and physician retention practices in rural settings, we asked questions such as:

  • What would prompt you to work in a rural setting?
  • Would you be open to a locum tenens assignment that would enable you to “try out” practicing in a rural location?
  • What are the top attributes of your organization’s culture that appeal to you?
  • What factors would motivate you to stay at your current organization for at least five more years?

Additionally, COVID continues to influence the decisions physicians are making about their careers. Questions we asked included:

  • Has the experience of working in healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated your plans for retirement?
  • For those working in rural healthcare, was COVID-19 the reason you chose it?

Download the White Paper to Get More Insight Into Rural Physician Recruitment and Staffing

 

For more information about how your healthcare organization can use the results of this survey to improve your physician recruitment and retention strategy, contact Jackson Physician Search today. Our team is made up of healthcare industry professionals who have spent decades recruiting physicians, physician leaders and advanced practice providers for healthcare organizations coast-to-coast.

And for more information about locum tenens staffing, please contact LocumTenens.com. Since 1995, LocumTenens.com has been a full-service locum tenens agency. The need has never been greater to connect great clinicians and great healthcare facilities. LocumTenens.com recruiters work on specialty teams and focus only on one specialty. This way, LocumTenens.com medical recruiters learn the ins-and-outs and become recruiting specialists in each area.

About Jackson Physician Search

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.

About LocumTenens.com

LocumTenens.com specializes in the temporary placement of physicians, advanced practitioners and psychologists at healthcare facilities across the U.S. through onsite and telehealth services. As the industry’s most-visited job board, LocumTenens.com helps healthcare organizations connect with the medical professionals they need to ensure patients have access to quality care. Founded in 1995, LocumTenens.com is a leader in the healthcare staffing industry, helping place clinicians who deliver care to more than seven million patients in over 2,400 healthcare facilities in the U.S. LocumTenens.com is a Jackson Healthcare company. Learn more at http://www.locumtenens.com/about.

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