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How to Recognize Physicians on National Doctors’ Day and Year-Round

Jackson Physician Search
March 28, 2024

As the physician shortage worsens, healthcare leaders increasingly focus on recruitment and retention. They recognize that, in a tight market, attracting physicians requires both more money and more effort. They also realize that to retain newly hired physicians (as well as those currently on staff), the high level of effort put into recruiting must also be put into making their practicing physicians feel impactful and appreciated. Physicians who feel valued are undoubtedly more likely to be loyal to their employers and remain with the organization.

Making physicians feel recognized for their contributions is a primary goal of any physician retention plan. This is accomplished through compensation, of course, but also by giving physicians a voice in the organization, autonomy to make decisions, paths to leadership, schedule flexibility, and time off.

Verbal recognition of a job well done also goes a long way to make physicians feel appreciated. In a 2022 joint survey by MGMA and Jackson Physician Search, more than half of physicians said formal recognition from management/administration is very or somewhat important to their job satisfaction. Ideally, this praise is offered on an ongoing basis. Still, regardless, National Doctors’ Day serves as a prime opportunity to recognize physicians for their contributions to the organizations they serve, their patients, and the broader community.

National Doctors’ Day is March 30th

Eudora Brown Almond, the wife of a physician in Winder, Georgia, initiated Doctors’ Day on March 30, 1933, by enlisting fellow citizens to send thank you cards to physicians in the area and placing flowers on the graves of deceased physicians. The date was chosen to commemorate the first use of anesthesia during surgery in 1842 by Georgia physician Dr. Crawford Long. Nearly 60 years later, the U.S. government designated National Doctors’ Day an official day of recognition. Almond’s desire to show appreciation for the physicians serving her community continues to inspire organizations nationwide to honor their physicians. How will your organization celebrate?

Ways to Recognize Physicians on National Doctors’ Day

Physicians, like anyone, enjoy affirmations for a job well done or for positively impacting someone. Whether spoken privately, written in a card, or announced publicly, praise shows physicians they are appreciated. Keep reading for thoughtful ways to express gratitude to physicians on National Doctors’ Day and year-round.

  • Personalized Thank You Notes: Encourage staff members, patients, and colleagues to write personalized thank you notes expressing their appreciation for individual physicians. These notes can highlight specific instances where the physician’s care significantly impacted someone’s life.
  • Recognition Events: Organize special events or gatherings on National Doctors’ Day to honor physicians within the medical group. These could include a breakfast, luncheon, or dinner where physicians are recognized for their achievements and contributions. Consider presenting awards or certificates of appreciation during these events.
  • Social Media Shoutouts: Utilize social media platforms to acknowledge and celebrate the physicians in your organization to a larger public audience. Share stories, photos, and testimonials from patients (with permission) and colleagues to showcase their positive impact on the community.
  • Tokens of Appreciation: Present physicians with tokens of appreciation such as branded merchandise, gift cards, or personalized items. These gifts can serve as tangible reminders of their valued organizational contributions.

Doctors’ Day Activities Do Not Replace a Solid Physician Retention Plan

Physicians will appreciate these gestures on National Doctors’ Day and throughout the year; although, if this is the only way you show gratitude, it will soon feel hollow. The ideas listed above are intended to accompany – not replace – the most essential components of a physician retention plan:

  • Detailed Compensation Plan: Competitive salary guarantees and signing bonuses work wonders in getting physicians to accept offers. However, due to the often complicated structure of physician compensation plans, physicians can soon feel confused about the calculation of their paychecks and begin to wonder if their pay is fair. Document the details of the compensation structure so that physicians know precisely where they stand and what criteria they need to achieve to reach the next level.
  • Open Communication Channels: According to the joint research, “two-way communication with management” was the most important factor impacting physician job satisfaction. Medical group leaders should establish open channels of communication where physicians feel heard and valued. Regular formal and informal meetings provide opportunities for dialogue, feedback, and the exchange of ideas. 
  • Manageable and Fair Workload: Physicians often point to administrative burdens and unrealistic productivity goals as contributors to physician burnout. They want a manageable workload comparable to that of other physicians in the group. Be transparent and fair about how new patients, schedules, call responsibilities, and miscellaneous duties are decided. 
  • Professional Development Opportunities: Invest in physician professional development opportunities by offering funding or scholarships for conferences, workshops, or continuing medical education (CME) courses. Supporting their growth and learning demonstrates a commitment to their ongoing success and recognition of their potential to be physician leaders.
  • Flexible Scheduling and Time Off: Recognize the importance of work-life balance by offering flexible scheduling options and encouraging physicians to take time off to recharge and rejuvenate. Providing opportunities for rest and relaxation helps prevent burnout and promotes overall well-being.

National Doctors’ Day provides an excellent opportunity to say a public ‘thank you’ to the physicians at your organization. It’s also a reminder to evaluate how you show appreciation to physicians year-round. Document your efforts to make physicians feel valued in a physician retention plan that reminds physicians of your commitment and holds all parties accountable. By adopting these strategies, leaders can show appreciation for physicians on National Doctors’ Day and throughout the year, reinforcing their importance to the organization and hopefully curating a place they want to stay long-term. 

Physician retention begins with recruitment. This is why Jackson Physician Search regularly counsels clients about the recruitment process and what it takes to make physicians want to stay in their jobs. Reach out to Jackson Physician Search today to learn how we can help you recruit providers who will fit, succeed, and stay.


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