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Survey Reveals Costly Disconnect Between Physicians and Hospitals About Retirement

Medical Group Management Association
October 14, 2019

MGMA19 | The Annual Conference

New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center

Booth 1427


ATLANTA and NEW ORLEANS ― (Oct. 14, 2019) — While physicians often feel it’s their responsibility to initiate a conversation about retirement plans with hospitals, many of them think much less notice is necessary than hospital administrators would find ideal. In a new survey from Jackson Physician Search, a firm specializing in the permanent recruitment of physicians and advanced practice providers to hospitals and other healthcare providers, many physicians felt that less than six months of notice was reasonable, despite hospital administrators preferring a one to three year notice period.


This week, during the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) Annual Conference in New Orleans, Jackson Physician Search President Tony Stajduhar will share key findings from the company’s newly released study, “The Realities of Physician Retirement: A Survey of Physicians and Healthcare Administrators.”


“Given that a hospital can easily lose $150,000 per month if a specialist leaves and a search for a medical or surgical specialist can take anywhere from five to 10 months, the stakes are high with this disconnect between physicians and administrators about notices of retirement,” said Stajduhar. “The findings in our study highlight the importance of creating the right culture and processes around physician retirement, including effective transition processes and ongoing recruiting efforts, to avoid the downside of a vacancy or understaffing situation.”


The survey, which was conducted in August of 2019, included responses from 567 doctors across a range of specialties and 100 administrators from throughout the country. Among the key findings:


  • Physicians feel it’s their responsibility to initiate the retirement conversation, but they are less comfortable doing so than administrators. A large majority of physicians (80 percent) said it’s their responsibility to broach the subject compared with 37 percent of administrators, yet less of them (52 percent) are comfortable discussing retirement plans than administrators (74 percent).


  • Physicians and administrators have vastly different opinions on what the ideal notice period is for a retirement timeline. Almost 50 percent of administrators indicated the ideal notice was one to three years, while 40 percent of physicians felt six months or less was sufficient. Further, 34 percent of physicians said they weren’t required to give any notice of retirement, while 81 percent of administrators said they were required to give more than three months.


  • Physicians’ drivers for retirement include lifestyle, financial stability, burnout and frustration with the current state of medicine. While physicians cited lifestyle issues (44 percent) as the most important reason driving their retirement decision, followed by financial stability (23 percent), comments from nearly 20 percent noted burnout and frustration with the current state of medicine and decreased focus on patient care.


  • Administrators assume that many physicians will fully retire, but a number of them plan to work elsewhere. Almost 40 percent of administrators named full retirement as a top retirement transition method at their organization. However, the study indicated that just 17 percent of physicians were planning to do so. In contrast, 28 percent of doctors said they will work part or full time somewhere else.

These and other findings in the Jackson Physician Search research are significant. By 2020, one in three physicians will be over age 65 and approaching retirement. That, coupled with the fact that recruiting an experienced, culturally-aligned physician can be a timely and complicated process for hospital administrators, adds to the complexity.


“Although there is hesitancy about initiating a conversation about retirement, it is clear that both administrators and physicians feel that it’s a beneficial discussion for both parties,” added Stajduhar. “Differences remain on length of notice and whose responsibility it is to bring up retirement, but when handled respectfully and conducted in a non-discriminatory way, both parties can find the ideal way to approach retirement transitions through proper planning and processes.”


The complete report on the survey results is available here:


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 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


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Media Contact:                                                                                                

Jan Sisko

Carabiner Communications

(678) 461-7438