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

Jackson Physician Search
April 7, 2021

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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