ATLANTA and ORLANDO, Fla. (March 20, 2023) — The full impact of the increase in physician retirements due to an aging physician population compounded by rising levels of burnout has yet to be felt by an industry already stretched thin.
Research results announced today from Jackson Physician Search – a leading firm in physician, physician leader and advanced practice provider recruitment – found that one in four physicians foresee burnout as the top driver in their retirement decisions. Yet, 50% of healthcare administrators think it’s age. The same study revealed that while economic concerns have delayed retirement for 38% of physicians, of the 24% who were planning to retire early due to COVID-19, 60% still plan do so. These are among several key findings from the study outlined in the new report “Preparing for the Wave of Physician Retirements: Survey Data Reinforces Need to Plan” available here.
“It all comes down to the question of when – not if – the healthcare industry will feel the full impact of forthcoming physician retirements. Through this study, we wanted to understand physicians’ views on the topic, as well as readiness in terms of planning by the organizations for which physicians work,” explains Tony Stajduhar, president of Jackson Physician Search. “What we learned is that most physicians – regardless of age – say they will retire as soon as they are financially able. This points to a critical need: healthcare organizations must plan and start recruiting and retaining physicians differently than how many do so today.”
Findings from the survey conducted in November/December 2022 indicate that healthcare administrators are not consistently aligned with physicians on how, or when, they plan to leave the workforce, nor do they appear to be as prepared as necessary. Some 69% of administrators say their organization doesn’t have a formal, written succession plan, yet 63% acknowledge that the typical amount of notice they receive from physicians is six months or less.
“When you consider that recruiting a culturally aligned physician in today’s competitive market often requires 6-12+ months and costs $250,000 or more – including sourcing, relocation and sign-on bonus – greater emphasis on initiating the retirement discussion, as well as accommodating physicians’ desire to slowly transition from full-time work to retirement, is key to keeping them in the workforce longer,” notes Stajduhar.
Responses to the survey were received from 387 physicians across a range of specialties and from 60 healthcare administrators throughout the country. In the report “Preparing for the Wave of Physician Retirements: Survey Data Reinforces Need to Plan” released this week, key takeaways include:
- Administrators are not fully aligned with physicians on what constitutes the ideal amount of retirement notice. Physicians indicate six months is enough time; administrators prefer 1-3 years to allow sufficient time to recruit.
- Only 12% of physicians intend to set a retirement date and fully retire, yet administrators believe that while physicians will slow down in their final years, they will then opt to leave medicine for good.
- Nearly 60% of Gen X physicians say they plan to retire by age 60, and data shows they’re making a move in that direction with 12% of those aged 51-60 already working part-time.
- When asked which options would cause physicians to consider delaying full retirement, 58% said part-time status, 52% said flexible schedules, and 42% said reducing or eliminating on-call requirements.
“While our research shows the desired retirement age is trending younger, it also provides valuable insight on what can be done to encourage physicians to stay in the workforce in some capacity,” adds Stajduhar. “Implementing full-scale retention and succession strategies are essential to lessening the impact of the coming wave of retirements.”
Additional research and insights found in the report include steps for creating a physician succession plan to help administrators anticipate and better prepare for physician retirements.
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. For more information, visit www.jacksonphysiciansearch.com.
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