It is already well-documented how much physician vacancies cost healthcare systems and medical practices. With as much as 40% of physician vacancies going unfilled as recently as 2017, retaining the physician staff that you already have in-house has become more important than ever. Let’s review proactive ways that administrators can improve physician retention instead of filling endless vacancies.
Hire for Fit
The most effective way of reducing physician turnover is to hire physicians that are already aligned with your corporate mission, values, and culture. When your staff believes they are working for an organization that embodies the same values and culture, they are naturally more engaged in their workplace. According to a Gallup study, physicians who are more engaged not only avoid looking for new opportunities, they are also 26% more productive and generate 51% more referrals than their counterparts that don’t feel that same sense of engagement.
Embrace Flexible Scheduling
Today’s physicians are not the typical doctor of 30 years ago. If you want your physician staff to maintain a singular focus on treating patient after patient in an assembly line fashion, there is a good chance you are already in an unending cycle of physician vacancies. Today’s physician has other personal and professional interests that go beyond their love of healthcare. Whether it is research, teaching the occasional class, or spending several weeks a year on medical missions to underserved nations, cater to your physician staff’s outside interests, and they will repay you with loyalty.
Learn the value of EQ
When discussing someone’s intelligence, references are always made to their IQ, but just as important for retention purposes is EQ. Emotional quotient (EQ) has been studied since 1990, and the results have shown that individuals with higher EQ, are more rewarding to work with, and are better at handling stress and workplace relationships. The good news is that EQ is something that can be developed in everyone. EQ training is sometimes referred to as soft skills training, and when successful, the results are an improved workplace culture and environment. Another important consideration when EQ training is being implemented is that it needs to include everyone from administration to physicians to support staff.
Develop a Mentorship Program
Physician burnout is affecting up to 55% of doctors, according to the Stanford University School of Medicine. When staggering numbers of physicians are reporting feeling the effects of burnout, it is not a stretch to imagine them looking for a new opportunity that doesn’t include the same amount of stress. A mentoring program can help physicians who are struggling to manage the stress of their job and career. Physician mentors have experienced the same types of job stress as their struggling counterparts and have valuable wisdom to share.
There is no single retention strategy that will help you avoid physician vacancies. But, losing sight of the factors that are contributing to your retention woes is the surest way to keep the vacancy cycle going. Paying attention to the culture of your workplace and understanding how leaders with lower EQ contribute to stress and disengagement can help you set a course for improved retention and more success overall.
Jackson Physician Search is annually ranked in the top 15 Best Places to Work in by Modern Healthcare. Our team of industry and recruitment professionals stands ready to help you find, hire, and retain the physicians and advanced practice professionals your organization needs. Contact us today to get started.
Each year, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) updates their report outlining projected Physician Supply and Demand for the United States.
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