When is the Right Time to Ask for Physician Recruitment Help?

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Time is money, especially when it comes to the amount of time it takes to fill a physician vacancy.  The costs that are accrued from the time a position becomes vacant to the date it is filled can reach up to $1 million in lost revenue, based on the specialty. Whether you are an administrator for a large system hospital or a small community health center, managing your time-to-fill rates are critical in today’s competitive physician recruitment and hiring environment.  More and more, organizations of all sizes are evaluating their internal recruitment and retention process to ensure they are maximizing their return on investment.  The stark reality of physician supply and demand is that no matter how good your internal recruitment teams are, there will always be a time when they could use some help from a trusted recruitment partner.  Let’s answer the question that more healthcare administrators find themselves asking, “When is the right time to ask for recruitment help?”

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to that question, as it depends on a lot of factors that are specific to your organization.  Things to consider are the effectiveness of your current in-house recruitment operation, how many vacancies are currently in the pipeline and do the vacancies include hard to fill specialties like family medicine, psychiatry, internal medicine, and OB/GYN.  Another important consideration when determining the right time to partner with a recruitment firm is how many hats your in-house recruiters are wearing in addition to sourcing candidates.  Are they responsible for sourcing, screening, setting up interviews, coordinating site visits, participating in interviews, and coordinating credentials?  Let’s face it, recruiting is a lot more than sourcing candidates, and when you are projecting vacancies due to retirements or planned expansion, finding a reliable, trusted recruitment partner can be the difference between finding a candidate who is the right fit and settling on a candidate to fill a vacancy.

Hard-to-fill Vacancies

One scenario that qualifies as a perfect time to establish a relationship with a physician search partner is when you have a hard-to-fill vacancy.  The market for physicians is competitive as it is, not to mention finding one of the aforementioned high-demand/low-supply vacancies.  Enlisting the help of a trusted firm can help you access a broader pool of candidates, including passive candidates who are only casually keeping an eye on opportunities.  A professional physician search firm will provide you with access to detailed candidate information, the latest technologies, and proven systems that can cast a wider net to find your perfect candidate.  It is never wrong to have a trusted partner do the heavy lifting on those difficult-to-fill vacancies.

Short-staffed Recruitment Team

Every organization goes through periods where individual departments are short-staffed due to illness, maternity and paternity leave, vacations, promotions, etc.  Considering the costs we have already mentioned, no amount of time is acceptable to leave a vacancy dormant.  Once you have established that working relationship with a search partner, it becomes easier to off-load searches onto an external team if your internal team is currently understaffed or overwhelmed.  Each month on average, a physician vacancy is costing you up to $150,000, so it makes sense in every perspective to keep the flow of candidates going, no matter what the situation may be with your team.

Understand Your Numbers

It may sound simplistic, but if you don’t understand your key recruitment metrics, you may never know when you have a problem.  Benchmarking your process gives you insight that allows you to adjust to fill gaps.  You should measure key data points, such as Time to Fill, # of Interviews until Hire, Acceptance Rate percentage, and three and five-year retention rates.  If you know these numbers, you will know if you need to bring on external recruitment help. Your numbers should also tell you your total cost to hire and your return on investment.  If you need to calculate what your current recruitment ‘Return on Investment’ is, find an ROI Calculator here.

Maintaining Momentum

How many times has your organization thought they had found the right candidate to fill a physician vacancy, only to find out that they accepted another offer? Once is too many if you are looking at your bottom line.  An often overlooked aspect of physician recruitment is what comes after you’ve sourced a candidate.  If your in-house recruiters are responsible for coordinating interviews, site visits, and everything else that goes into the hiring of a physician, then it pays to be cognizant of their workload.  When your team is juggling a lot of searches and the accompanying details, it is the perfect time to offload a couple of searches onto your external search partner to maintain the momentum with candidates that are already in the pipeline. Once a candidate is interested in your position, never drop the ball. From the first contact to the coordination of an interview, the interested candidate should feel reciprocal interest from your team. Allowing your internal teams to concentrate on maintaining that momentum while your external partner finds you candidates is an appropriate way to divide up the workload during periods of heavy activity. Here are a few key tips for maintaining momentum with a candidate:

  • The first contact with a presented candidate should be within 24 – 48 hours.
  • Set up an interview at the candidate’s earliest convenience. Be flexible!
  • Prepare a winning site visit. Don’t skimp, tailor the site visit to each specific candidate to show you are interested (please watch singular versus plural).
  • Don’t forget to recruit the physician’s family just as hard.
  • Have the framework of a contract in place and agreed upon by key stakeholders. Waiting on contract approvals is a sure way to lose candidates.
  • Maintain regular contact straight through the onboarding process.

Finding the right search partner can make all the difference in your recruitment process, but don’t discount how recruitment feeds into retention.  When you focus on the end result of finding the right candidate, you are in turn finding a candidate that naturally fits your organization and has a better chance to stay engaged, be productive, and want to stay in the position longer.  More than in years past, physicians want to find an organization that has a similar culture and values to their own.  Hiring for fit is the single best way to improve retention, and finding those candidates often requires more than posting your vacancy on a couple of job boards. Working with a recruitment partner is one way that you can expand the resources that are available to you and engage both active and passive candidates to your organization.

Jackson Physician Search is a healthcare industry leader and is poised to be the physician recruitment partner that your organization needs.  Contact our recruitment professionals today and learn how we can help you find physicians who fit, succeed, and stay.

 

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Policy and Politics Affecting Physicians Heading Into 2020

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Regardless of what side of the political aisle you find yourself, it isn’t hard to argue that legislative policies and politics have created a sea change in the healthcare landscape over the past decade.  Now, as we stand on the doorstep to 2020, it is safe to assume that more legislation, driven by politics, will continue being a catalyst for change in the future.  For now, with our sights clearly set on the New Year ahead, let’s examine some of the policies and politics that will be affecting physicians and healthcare in general.

Will Congress pass legislation to address the impending physician shortage?

Yogi Berra once famously said, “It’s like déjà vu all over again.” When Yogi uttered those words, he was referring to Mantle and Maris hitting back to back home runs, but today it could be attributed to legislation that is stalled in Congress for the third time since 2013.  The Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act was introduced in the House and Senate in 2013, 2017, and again in 2019, but has yet to advance any further.  The current iterations of the bill (S.348/H.R. 1763) have received bi-partisan support and are both designed to increase the number of residency positions eligible for graduate medical education payments under Medicare for qualifying hospitals.  Over five years, this legislation would increase the current number of slots by 15,000 and is strongly supported by the American Hospital Association.  Considering the toxic partisanship that currently exists in both houses of Congress, it will be interesting to see if these bills are taken up at some point, once the legislative session resumes after the holiday break.  At a minimum, it might show the voting public that things can get done in Washington.

How much risk does value-based care pose to providers?

The ongoing transition from volume-based to value-based care has been slowly building throughout the past decade, arguably with no consensus best-practice models to emulate. A Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) report states that in the near-term, “providers will increasingly face both upside and downside financial risk in their arrangements with health plans.”

Another challenge that poses a risk for physicians and providers, in general, is how unsettled the variation of payment models still are, as they continue to be reformed.  As both Medicare and commercial payers keep payment models in flux, physicians, hospitals, and health plans are going to be experiencing greater shared risk.

How is consumerism affecting physician care?

While it may have taken longer than in other industries, there is no questioning the impact that consumerism is now having on the healthcare industry.  Much of the impetus for consumer-driven change grew out of the Affordable Care Act, most specifically the creation of the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), tasked with studying new models and expenditure reductions. Today, consumers have more healthcare choices than at any other time in history.  From choosing a health plan that best suits their needs to making choices on when and where to seek care.  Consumerism within healthcare is only going to increase, and it is forcing a significant change in the way healthcare is marketed, transparency and structure in the cost for services, and convenience offerings to match patient lifestyle.  All of this places inherent pressure on the physician who is providing care, as the power of the consumer affords the patient leverage and options that may not have existed in the past.

How much will the 2020 election impact physicians?

While it is not in the interests of this space to delve too deeply into the political arena, it is important to look at how the 2020 election may impact physicians.  According to a wide-ranging report on the top health issues of 2020 by PwC Health Research Institute (HRI), it is unlikely that the outcome of the election is going to bring about a massive change in the healthcare industry.  Instead, no matter which party wins, expect regulatory changes and other lesser impactful legislative changes.

Things to be on the lookout for include Medicare Part D reform, drug pricing reform to include transparency and possible linkage to overseas pricing, and additional Medicaid reforms.  One thing that won’t change in 2020 is increased healthcare spending.  The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services are projecting that US healthcare spending will increase from $3.8 trillion in 2019 to at least $4 trillion in 2020.

Although it is difficult to project how much change will be driven by the election, healthcare will be a topic throughout the 2020 cycle as a recent survey by HRI indicated that 71% of adult Americans of both parties are voting for a candidate based on the stated healthcare policies or ideas.

If you are searching for an opportunity that can provide you with more stability in this unsettled healthcare landscape, contact Jackson Physician Search today and let our industry professionals help find your perfect practice setting.

 

How AI and Tech Are Impacting Physicians

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How Artificial Intelligence and Tech are Impacting Physicians

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Fans of literary Science Fiction have been reading about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and technological advancements for decades.  What has changed in that time is now, things that were once left to the imagination of authors like Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, and Isaac Asimov, are becoming the mainstream.  Especially in the field of medicine.  As technology grows more ubiquitous, everyone working in healthcare are being forced to adjust to the many ways AI and technology are impacting the industry.

The impact of technology on how physicians perform their duties is perhaps more significant than anyone else in the healthcare industry. Let’s look at five ways AI and Technology are impacting today’s physicians.

Robotic Surgery 

Typically, when considering technology and healthcare, the first topic mentioned is the use of robotics in surgery.  The first documented use of a robot-assisted surgery occurred in 1985, while the first unmanned robotic surgery came in 2006.  Today, more than one-third of U.S. hospitals have at least one surgical robot.  The rapid growth of this technology is creating new challenges for physicians, young and old.  The biggest change for physicians is in learning how to use the latest robotic technology, with none more impacted than surgical residents. Before robotics, residents learned surgical procedures up close and hands-on at the patient’s side.  Now, surgery is performed at a console 15-feet away from the patient, and residents are forced to watch over the surgeon’s shoulder or observe at a second console.  These training barriers have to be overcome for physicians to keep up with the growth of robotic technologies in the surgical suite.

Disease Detection

One area that AI is clearly making a difference is in the early detection of diseases.  For example, over 12 million mammograms are performed annually in the U.S., yet 1 in 2 healthy women are misdiagnosed. When AI is used to translate mammograms, the results are returned 30% faster and with up to 99% accuracy, which has resulted in a reduction in unnecessary biopsies and patient stress due to misdiagnosis.  AI also performs a natural benefit by monitoring the data collected through consumer wearables and other medical devices. As advancements in AI continue to develop, look for the technology to detect life-threatening episodes earlier, leading to better treatment outcomes.

Decision Support Systems

Dosing errors make up 37% of all preventable medical errors.  Researchers found that AI can be used to determine the correct dosage of immunosuppressant drugs for organ transplant recipients, a process that typically included educated guesswork combined with practiced guidelines. AI is also emerging as an aid to clinical judgment and diagnosis.  AI can provide critical information to physicians by combing through the millions of genetic variants of a patient to determine a probability that one of them could cause a particular disease.

Virtual Reality Training

New technologies are used to augment physician training. Virtual Reality (VR) can provide physicians with targeted training on many clinical scenarios.  AI, through natural speech technology, can even respond to questions or challenge decisions made within the VR session.  Similar to how flight simulation transformed the aviation industry, VR is changing medical education and training.  While still in its infancy, the benefits of this immersive training are unquestioned.  VR provides trainees the ability to learn in a simulated, engaging hands-on environment, which allows physicians of all experience levels to learn at their own pace without risk to patient health.

Simplifying Administrative Tasks

One of the most significant areas of promise for the utilization of AI and technology is in streamlining the ever-increasing amount of administrative activities.  New technologies can improve administrative workflows such as charting, ordering tests, and filling prescriptions through the utilization of voice-to-text transcription.  Creating efficiencies like this allows the physician to have more time for direct care and more meaningful patient interactions.

Technology and artificial intelligence are already changing the way physicians are practicing medicine.  As advancements continue across the spectrum of care, the question to be answered will be how physicians can most effectively learn and interact with the technologies to continually improve patient care.

If you are looking to take your physician career to the next level, partner with a firm that can offer a nationwide reach and decades of leading industry experience, contact Jackson Physician Search and speak with one of our recruitment professionals today.

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How to Make The Most of Your Physician Job Search

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For Physicians, there has never been a better time to find a new practice opportunity.  With a projected shortage of up to 120,000 physicians by the year 2032, any doctor who is not happy in their current situation has plenty of opportunities to improve their circumstances or career trajectory.  Let’s look at five key things all physicians can do to ensure a successful job search.

Reconcile Why You Want a New Job

One necessary step physicians should take before they begin a job search is to determine all of the reasons why a new practice opportunity is essential.  Giving consideration to the reasons why you are ready to leave your current position is an important factor in finding the right new opportunity. The best way to accomplish this is to put pen to paper and list the reasons why you are ready for a change. Whether the change is to get out from under unmanageable work hours or to improve your job satisfaction, or maybe you want to advance your career by getting into a leadership position. Listing the reasons why you are ready for change can help you avoid getting into a similar situation in your new job.  It can also be helpful information to have when you are working with a physician recruitment firm.

Update Your CV and Prepare for the Interviews

Now that you have thought about why the time is right for a new practice opportunity, take the next step in the process by updating your CV.  In today’s high-demand climate, there is a real chance that you will be receiving job offers right out of the gate.  Taking the proactive step of updating your CV will help you keep the momentum of your search going forward. Now is also a good time to jot down questions that you may have for any potential new employers.  Administrators know that physicians who are actively searching will receive multiple offers, so don’t be surprised when they move quickly once you are on their radar.

Prepare for the Compensation Questions

Physician compensation is complicated and varies between organizations.  It is vital to understand your entire compensation package, including base salary, benefits, bonuses, and potential incentives.  Based on where you are at in your career, you may want to ask about student loan forgiveness or different retirement saving options.  It is also important to keep in mind the tax implications between states.  Fortunately, there are tools available to help you compare compensation in different locations.

Involve Your Family

Job searches don’t happen in a vacuum.  As important as it is for you to find the right opportunity for your career, it is equally important for your family to take part in the decision-making process.  Moving to a new location has a lot of serious variables to consider. Is it a good fit for your lifestyle? Are there quality schools for the children? What kind of weather is prevalent in that part of the country? No individual location or community is going to be perfect for every member of your family, but you need to consider how any move will impact everyone involved.

Career Advancement

At the end of the day, your job search should result in the advancement of your career.  That advancement can be professional, personal, or both. If you are at a stage in your career where you seek more control or a more significant say in the decision-making process, begin exploring leadership positions.  If your current situation requires you to work an unreasonable amount of hours, or you have become frustrated with a toxic work culture, then your job search should be focused on finding an organization that espouses values similar to your own.  The good news is that once you find the right practice setting, your life should change for the better. From having more free time to spend with the kids or finally having time for the occasional round of golf, a new job can be just the recharge your batteries need.

In today’s healthcare environment, physicians don’t have to remain in a job that doesn’t align with their lifestyle or values.  Demand for physicians is high and will continue to be so in the foreseeable future.  If you are ready to begin exploring new opportunities, you may want to consider finding a partner for your job search.  An experienced recruiter has access to administrators and job openings that you won’t find on your own. Additionally, professional recruitment partners can help you work through contract negotiations, compensation packages, and also provide insight into organizational culture questions you may have.

Jackson Physician Search has a team of recruitment professionals with decades of high-level industry experience. They have a nationwide reach and established relationships with healthcare industry administrators in organizations of all types and sizes, giving you the best opportunity to find a position that takes your career to the next level.  Contact a Jackson Physician Search recruitment professional today.

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How to Ignite Your Career with a Physician Recruiter

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Everyone in the healthcare industry has read about or heard that there is a growing physician shortage in the United States. Earlier this year, the Association of American Medical Colleges confirmed that there would be a gap of between 46,900 and 121,900 physicians by 2032.  For any physician looking for new practice opportunities, there will be plenty of jobs available.  While this is good news, the question to ask yourself is, which job opportunities are right for me? That’s where having a relationship with an experienced physician recruiter can benefit you the most.  Let’s look at the unique ways a trusted recruitment partner can help you.

How Physician Recruiters Simplify Your Search

Nationwide Reach

Whether you are looking for a perfect opportunity across town or across the country, you will have access to information about available opportunities. Your recruitment partner will have the resources and the network connections to find you an opportunity that matches your career and life goals.  For example, he or she can keep you informed about hiring and compensation trends in whatever specialty or geographic region you are exploring.

Insider Access

In today’s high-demand climate, physicians who conduct extensive searches on physician job boards may find a suitable position. However, this approach is time-consuming at best. When you work with a recruitment professional, he or she already has relationships with hospital system administrators and in-house recruiters. According to a 2017 ASPR Benchmarking Report, more than 40% of physician searches were to replace a departing provider, and almost 70% were for hospital-owned practices. These numbers highlight the importance of the relationships and trust a recruiter has built throughout their network.  Recruiters have information about current open positions and future openings that typical job board searches will miss.

Heavy Lifting

Once your recruitment partner understands your career goals and lifestyle needs, he or she can help you throughout the process of landing the right opportunity. This support can be preparing you for the interview to scheduling the site visit and even helping you navigate the contract negotiations.  An experienced recruiter has a wealth of information that can help you overcome challenges and put your best foot forward when being presented as a candidate.

 

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Getting the Most Out of Your Recruitment Partner

Establish Trust

The most important way to establish trust with your recruitment partner is open and honest communication. Make sure he or she knows exactly what you are looking for in your next opportunity and why you are looking in the first place. If you want a new opportunity because of a bad work environment,  process issues with administration, or unruly work hours, explain that to your recruiter. Your recruiter needs to know what your cultural fit looks like so he or she can match you with a client employer who shares similar values.  The more information your recruiter has will only benefit you in finding your perfect practice setting.

Use Recruiters as a Resource

As important as it is to establish trust with your recruiter through open dialogue, it is equally important to maximize him or her as a resource. Your trusted recruiter has information about every aspect of the position and the organization with which you are applying, even the expected salary range. Never be shy about asking tough questions.  Find out about the challenges an organization is facing or even why there is an opening. Your recruiter knows the hiring team, the administrators, the culture, as well as important details about the community. Tapping into that knowledge and experience is the key to helping you make the right career decision.

Be Committed to Your Search

Once you have established a relationship with a professional recruiter, and he or she begins finding opportunities based on your stated requirements, you need to see it through. As Warren Buffett famously stated, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and only five minutes to ruin it.” When you have a recruiter working on your behalf, respect the process, and treat it seriously. Essentially, this means that if things advance to the point of an offer, it shouldn’t be used as a bargaining chip with your current employer.  If you were open and honest about your reasons for the job search, then any offers received will be given the consideration they deserve.

Jackson Physician Search has a nationwide reach and a team of recruitment professionals with decades of healthcare industry experience. Contact our team today and let us work on finding the perfect fit for you and your family.

 

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Creating a Culture of Physician Wellness

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Physician burnout has been a topic of conversation for several years now, but a related topic that is not garnering nearly enough attention is physician wellness.  According to the National Institute of Health, part of the reason is that physician wellness or physician well-being is not clearly defined or measured.  With the spotlight on the issue of physician burnout, now is the perfect time for healthcare administrators to focus attention on creating a culture of wellness within their physician group.

An article published by the New England Journal of Medicine cited a culture of wellness as one of three drivers that contribute to higher professional fulfillment, along with the efficiency of practice, and personal resilience.  The article cites the culture of wellness and the efficiency of practice as organizational responsibilities in addressing burnout, while personal resilience is the responsibility of the individual physician.  Let’s look at ways healthcare organizations can begin creating physician wellness efforts as an approach toward reducing burnout.

Understand what a Culture of Wellness Means

As defined, a culture of wellness includes a set of values, attitudes, and behaviors promoting personal and professional growth, the practice of self-care, and compassion for colleagues, patients, and the individual.  Once healthcare organizations recognize the importance of physician wellness, they are more likely to measure and attend to it with resources and accountability.

Recognize Burnout in Your Organization

While 98% of healthcare administrators recognize that burnout is a problem, most perceive it to be a greater problem outside of their own organization. To understand the levels of burnout within your organization, it has to be measured periodically via the Maslach Burnout Inventory or another similar tool.  It is always better to know how much burnout is impacting your staff and work toward finding solutions.

Designate a Wellness “Owner” 

One key way that organizations can prove that they are taking physician wellness seriously is by designating an individual to own wellness efforts. Having someone who can champion the effort and also have accountability for the development of the plan and associated results, demonstrates a level of seriousness that facilitates physician “buy-in.”

Focus on Continuous Improvement in Workflows 

As important as measuring your internal levels of physician burnout are towards understanding the scope of the problem, it is equally important to understand the contributing factors. Organizationally, it is critical to recognize inefficiencies in workflows and other factors that are causing your physicians the most frustration. For some, it is excessive time spent on EMR’s, for others, it might be appropriate time off after unusually long or difficult shifts. The best way to get a handle on the issues causing the biggest challenges for your staff is by talking about them. Encouraging open and honest dialogue can shine a light on things that need to be changed, but also lead to physician-led solutions.

Skills Building

Everyone handles stressors differently. Some physicians seem immune to pressure situations, while others internalize them and struggle in silence.  Being resilient is a critical characteristic for anyone who has a stressful occupation. The good news is that resiliency can be learned. Putting resources toward developing resiliency skills in your physician staff and implementing other interventions like a strong mentorship program can help your team handle the pressures of the job while facilitating important dialogue and creative solutions.

Creating a culture of wellness requires resources and accountability throughout clinical and administrative leadership. It is not unreasonable to expect that your physicians should attend to their own well-being, although providing them with the tools and resources to do that is critical to a successful approach.  Clearly, strategies to reduce physician burnout are dominating national studies of practicing physicians and physicians in training.  As more research and data becomes available about successful physician wellness programs, discussions about integrating a more balanced approach to combating physician burnout will be more prevalent.

Jackson Physician Search is comprised of a team of professionals with decades of healthcare industry experience.  Contact us today to find out how our expertise and nationwide reach can work for you.

 

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Serving the Under-served

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Dr. A. had received a Doctorate of Dental Surgery in Damascus, Syria, and then again at the University of Southern California.  He enjoyed his work, but the long commute and time away from home had been wearing on him.  It was time to start looking for an opportunity located close to his home in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

There are community health centers all over the country struggling to find and retain medical care providers for under-served populations. Such was the case with a small community health center in South Dakota that had been unsuccessfully searching for a dentist to add to their staff.  The clinic, an FQHC, also provides dental clinic services in three area schools to help serve a large rural population that can’t make it to the main location.  Because the FQHC was on an extremely tight budget and had already spent money the past two years trying to recruit a dentist, they were hesitant to contract with a search partner.

Eventually, the administrators at the clinic agreed to a call with Tara Osseck, Director of Recruiting for Jackson Physician Search.  During the call, Tara was able to share specific data, available resources, and highlight recent successes.  The clinic agreed to partner with JPS in late July, and Rebecca Larsen, a Jackson Physician Search Recruitment Consultant got started right away.

Rebecca traveled to the clinic to learn more about the community.  She found a growing community with many new developments, but also a large rural population in surrounding areas.  Armed with this information, she dove into the search to find the right candidate.  Dr. A. was practicing about three hours south of the FQHC that Rebecca was busy recruiting for and was completely unaware of the clinic’s need, despite their 2-year search to find someone.

Within two weeks of her visit, Rebecca and Dr. A connected, and both determined that the FQHC opportunity was a perfect fit for Dr. A. and the clinic. That fit was even more evident when Dr. A, learned that the clinic administrator shared his commitment to mission work. Dr. A. has a long history of spending time providing free dental services to military veterans and also impoverished communities. Now, he was beyond excited to have a new job close to his home that would also afford him time to continue his volunteer work.

In all, from starting the search to a signed contract with Dr. A, it took an amazing 39 days.  Obviously, in today’s competitive physician recruitment environment, not every search is completed within that short of a timeframe, but it does illustrate how a trusted, professional recruitment partner can bring together an opportunity and a physician to create a win-win scenario for both parties.

If you are looking for a partner that can help with your job search efforts, contact the professionals at Jackson Physician Search today.

 

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How Physicians Can Achieve Better Work-Life Balance

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A few years ago, a study published by the Archives of Internal Medicine found that physicians are twice as likely as other workers to be unhappy with their work-life balance. Since then, nothing in the healthcare industry has changed to make achieving that balance any easier, and many may concede it has gotten worse.  The 2019 Medscape study on Physician Burnout found that 44% of doctors were experiencing burnout, and 15% were clinically depressed.  Clearly, with the effort required to become a physician, ending up burned out and depressed is not an ideal scenario.

Regardless of your chosen occupation, everyone deserves to achieve the work-life balance that they have always wanted. Let’s look at a few things you can do immediately to find that perfect work-life balance.

  1. Audit Your Time. I know, your first thought is that you don’t have the time to practice medicine, how can I find the time to track my hours.  The answer is simple. If you don’t have a clear understanding of where your time is going, how can you make the necessary changes to find balance?  Fortunately, there are very handy time tracking apps that you can put on your phone.  With very little effort, you can set up the multitude of tasks you perform throughout the day, and when you get to work the next day, simply clock into and out of those tasks. At the end of the week, you will have a very clear picture of where your time is going.  Time tracking apps like Atracker or TMetric offer basic versions for iOS and Android for free, or more robust versions for a nominal fee.  Once you determine where your time is being wasted or how much time is spent on overly labor-intensive duties, you can work on coming up with a solution.
  2. Make Your Own Wellness an Important Priority. You spend your day healing others, but when it comes down to it, how much time are you spending on healing yourself?  You aren’t a machine and should refrain from treating yourself like one.  Start small and force yourself to leave work at a reasonable hour at least once a week.  Or, try spending a lunch hour several days a week at the gym.  Let’s face it, the work will be there when you get back, so there is no reason to forgo your own mental and physical health trying to do the impossible.
  3. Don’t Obsess Over Things You Can’t Control. There is a lot of wisdom in the “Serenity Prayer” that is used in 12-step recovery programs, among other things. As a physician, you have a lot of things that are in your control, but also much that is not. Instead of stressing about each new regulation that is passed down from CMS or the latest insurance claim that was denied, have the serenity to accept what you can and cannot control.  Internalizing your frustrations over external demands is a sure way to stoke the burnout fire. Try channeling those frustrations into an evening run or visit the gym.
  4. Create a Meaningful Life Outside of Your Work. As difficult as it may seem at times, the more life you cultivate outside of work, the more reasons you will have to force yourself to leave at a reasonable time or take a vacation day or two.  Whether it is family, friends, or a hobby, having other priorities in your life besides work, makes it easier to force a balance between them.
  5. Advocate for Yourself. Frequently, physicians allow themselves to be sucked into commitments or responsibilities that are unreasonable for anyone who is trying to achieve work-life balance. Sometimes you have to stick up for yourself and demand that time off for vacation, or even just the opportunity to take a break or a lunch at a reasonable time.  If electronic records charting is keeping you in the office until 9 at night, advocate for a medical scribe to alleviate some of that burden. Somethings are worth the fight, and if it is impeding your ability to create balance in your life, fight for the change you need.

You have worked extremely hard to become a physician, and you deserve to have a life outside of practicing medicine.  It may not seem easy to achieve, but it is important for you as a person and your longer-term career to begin taking steps toward achieving balance in your life.

If you need to make a change in order to achieve greater work-life balance, contact the experienced recruitment professionals at Jackson Physician Search, and let us help you find the opportunity needed to get there.

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Staying Ahead of Physician Retirements

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Much of the recent discussions regarding the impending physician shortage include the reality that by 2020, one in three physicians will be of retirement age.  Couple that with the associated costs incurred with each physician vacancy, and it is clear that hospital and healthcare system administrators need to get out in front of their physician retirements.  Jackson Physician Search recently conducted a survey of physicians and administrators regarding their thoughts about retirement and how that will impact physician staffing levels.  The survey was followed up by the publication of a white paper outlining retirement perceptions of both groups of respondents.

One thing that was clear throughout the survey results is that physician perception about retirement varies greatly from administrator’s perception of the same.  Here are a few ways that administrators can better prepare for physician retirements.

Understand what is driving the retirement discussion for physicians.

Administrators responded that the average age for retirement at their facility was 65, which is in line with U.S. Census data reporting 63 years of age. Administrators also cited that the main driver for physician retirement was lifestyle (48%), but that the second driver was for health reasons (15%). Physicians, on the other hand, cited lifestyle (44%) as the top reason, but stated financial stability (23%) second, and burnout (20%) was third.

Facilitate the Retirement Conversation.

Contemplating retirement is a big deal for anyone, physicians included.  When asked, 80% recognize that it is their responsibility to initiate the retirement conversation, but only 52% responded that they feel comfortable doing so. Overwhelmingly, administrators responded that they felt comfortable having the retirement discussion with their physicians. That is an important consideration to keep in mind. Knowing which of your physicians are nearing retirement age with the understanding that they may not be comfortable talking about it, a good strategy should be to create an environment where they can openly discuss their plans. Some organizations use surveys. Others have HR provide talking points to assist the physicians in starting the retirement conversation. However it is done; the important factor is to make it a collaborative, comfortable conversation.

Don’t Get Caught by Short Notice.

We all know how long it can take to fill a physician vacancy and how much each vacancy can cost.  One area of great divergence between physician responses and administrator responses concerns the amount of prior notice to be given before a retirement.  Almost 50% of administrators stated that the ideal advance notice was one to three years, while 40% of physicians claimed 6 months or less was sufficient.  With that much of a discrepancy, clearly, proactively having retirement discussions are just as important as developing an ongoing recruitment effort to have available candidates in the pipeline.

Create a Win-Win Retirement Transition Plan.

Up to 40% of administrators responded that they considered full retirement the top priority for physicians.  Surprisingly, only 17% of physicians indicated that they were planning to fully retire, and almost 28% stated that they would work full or part-time somewhere else.  Again, this divergence of opinion re-emphasizes the importance of open and honest retirement conversations. Administrators can be proactive and work on creating a transition plan for each physician’s retirement. Whether it is an offer of flexible part-time hours, taking on telemedicine duties that can be managed around their schedule, or even non-clinical duties as available.  Another important piece of information that came out of the survey is that 50% of physicians stated that they would consider employer-sponsored incentives to start an early retirement process.  That type of proactive approach could be utilized to the organization’s benefit and help to avoid any retirement surprises. When asked if they offered any type of proactive, employer-sponsored early retirement benefits, nearly 95% of administrators responded in the negative.

Retirement is going to be an important topic over the next several years for a large portion of the current physician workforce.  Administrators should take the opportunity to review the Jackson Physician Search Retirement Survey White Paper and formulate a collaborative strategy with their physicians.  Having a clear understanding of each party’s intentions can ease any unexpected vacancies and also allow for a more comfortable transition for the retiring physicians.

If your organization needs the assistance of a trusted physician recruitment partner or wants to tap into the knowledge of experienced healthcare industry professionals, reach out to Jackson Physician Search today.

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Provide Autonomy to Keep Physicians Engaged

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Since the Gallup survey on physician engagement came out in 2015, most if not all hospital administrators made themselves familiar with the information that was collected.  Since then, countless articles have been published highlighting the ways that healthcare organizations can keep their physicians engaged, yet, physician burnout and retention issues still exist, with more than 40% of physicians reporting that they are suffering from burnout.

In a subsequent survey, Jackson Physician Search conducted an engagement survey, using the same Gallup poll questions, but requested responses from both physicians and hospital administrators.  The results illustrated a clear difference between the physician experience of engagement drivers and the administration’s perception of the same.

In their own words, physicians value autonomy and want to be treated fairly and with respect. All three of these factors contribute to physician engagement, and all three are areas where physician perception differs from administrators’ perception. With that in mind, let’s review how physician engagement expectations can be met.

 

Place appropriate emphasis on culture and fit.

More than at any time prior, physicians want to work for an organization that is aligned with their own values.  Current physician shortages have created a very competitive physician recruitment environment, making it increasingly important to recruit and hire physicians who are a good fit for your organizational culture. If your organization does not have a recognizable or clearly defined culture, consider investing the time to find out. Further, it is important to recognize that an engaged physician staff are more productive and generates more revenue than physicians who are not engaged.

Ensure administrative actions are aligned with physician goals.

Physicians care about the patients they are serving.  When asked about the source of their frustration, many cite what they deem to be unreasonable expectations put upon them by executive decree.  There is always a reason why administrators place a goal or expectation on a physician, and usually, there is data to back it up. Where the gap materializes is that the data or reason behind an administrative action is not shared with the physician staff.  When physicians perceive that administrative actions are conflicting with their medical decision-making, any sense of autonomy is lost.  Transparency regarding goals and expectations facilitates physician buy-in and reduces unnecessary stress and burnout.

Cultivate an open environment for feedback and transparency.

The gap between physician perspective and that of administrators highlights the need for improved communication from the top down.  Physicians are trained problem-solvers, and when they are engaged, they can be invaluable in helping to solve organizational issues and other challenges in the workplace. Creating a culture of open and honest communication and feedback can ignite their problem-solving skills and lead to solutions that may be missed without a front-line perspective.

Implement a Physician Leadership development strategy.

In addition to being problem solvers, many physicians are natural leaders.  In a 2019 poll conducted by the Medical Group Management Association, 67% of respondents cited that no leadership coaching was provided to their clinicians. Admittedly, not every physician has the interpersonal skills to be an effective leader or executive.  But, there are many other ways that physicians can be developed to provide effective leadership to a slew of organization objectives. Those with demonstrated leadership skills and abilities should be groomed to take on future roles within the organization. Others, who exhibit different types of problem-solving or leadership skills can be trained to provide specific project-level leadership to help achieve organizational objectives. The key is to tap into each individual’s skill set to develop and nurture their innate skills and abilities.

Create a culture of support.

Too often, healthcare organizations develop a tendency to overreact to regulatory and qualitative burdens. No one will argue that raising the standards of care are important, but to the practicing physician, the regulatory burdens can be crushing.  All of the above recommendations should contribute to a recognized need for healthcare organizations to develop an environment where regulatory and qualitative burdens are met by a collaborative approach.  Together, administrators and physicians should communicate about a collective approach to achieving quality standards and meeting the increasing regulatory burden.

 

The roadmap to achieving physician engagement, while satisfying their desire for autonomy in patient care decisions is hardly different than in organizations across the employment spectrum. Physicians, like most working individuals, want to work in an environment where they are valued, have an opportunity to participate in the decision-making process, and are supported by leadership.

To learn more about how your healthcare organization can improve physician engagement and retention, contact an experienced Jackson Physician Search industry professional today.

 

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