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How Medical Practices Can Retain Their Top Physicians


Though salary is an important factor for physician retention, money is not the only thing that matters. Here are a few other things physicians are looking for in a job.

I have the chance to work with healthcare facilities across the country. When we discuss their biggest challenges - whether it’s a small practice or a large health system - one answer always makes the list: physician retention.

No one wants to lose a great doctor. It’s not easy to find a new physician with both the necessary clinical skills and the right personality to be a good fit for the practice. It takes time to source, interview, and onboard new physicians. It also costs money in terms of lost productivity and revenue.

So what is it that drives physicians to look for a new job - and, more importantly, what can you do to keep them from leaving? CompHealth recently surveyed senior executives, practice owners, administrators, and staff to find the answer to both of those questions. Here’s what we learned.

How long do doctors stay in a job?
The good news is that the majority of employers (52 percent) are able to hang on to their doctors for seven or more years. The retention problems, however, tend to come in the earlier stages of a physician’s employment. Less than 6 percent of physicians leave a job during the first two years of employment, but nearly a quarter leave during years three and four. Integrated health systems retain doctors the longest, followed closely by small hospitals.

Why do they leave?
Not surprisingly, money is the primary factor in a physician’s decision to leave a job. The majority of doctors report leaving a job for higher pay. A more appealing location, better shifts, and added prestige also made the top of the list.
Here’s the breakdown:
• Higher pay – 58 percent
• Location – 40 percent
• Better shifts – 22 percent
• More prestige – 25 percent

Other physicians leave jobs for less tangible reasons like a lack of development or leadership opportunities.

How do we make them stay?
Though salary is an important factor, money is not the only thing that matters. Here are a few other things physicians are looking for in a job:
• A warm welcome. When it comes to onboarding, most facilities do a good job with introductions, facility tours, and welcome packets for new hires. However, less than 25 percent of employers follow up with weekly calls or check-ins with a new doctor.
• Good benefits. Physicians are looking for paid leave, malpractice insurance, and retirement plans. Unfortunately, only half of the respondents said their organizations offer such incentives.
• Added administrative support. Many doctors want practices to do more to minimize their administrative load and are looking for personal assistants or nurses to handle these tasks.
• Paid professional development opportunities – Physicians need to stay current on their CME - and they want their employers to pay for it. The majority of employers offer paid time off for CME and foot the bill for CME tuition.

If you already offer these type of perks to your doctors, congratulations. If not, now is a good time to start - before you lose a great doctor.

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