Four Keys to Developing Physician Leadership

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One area of physician engagement that is sometimes overlooked is how many of today’s medical doctors want to play a role in leadership. With the ongoing physician shortage and unsustainable turnover rates in many healthcare organizations, developing plans to provide physician staff with development opportunities can be utilized to stem the effects of burnout and improve their engagement in the work environment.  A May 2019 poll conducted by Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), queried a broad spectrum of healthcare leaders and an astounding 67% of respondents replied that they provide no leadership coaching to their clinicians.

That gap in responses represents a huge missed opportunity for healthcare organizations that are battling recruitment and retention problems.  In a recent Jackson Physician Search survey of physicians, an impressive 43% of physicians responded that more autonomy would be an important attribute to their career.  One way for administrators to feed into the physician’s need for more autonomy is to provide them with leadership training and growth opportunities. In that same Jackson Physician Search survey, physician’s listed participatory decision making and autonomy as two of the top three attributes for a positive organizational culture. 14% of the physicians that took the survey indicated that leadership opportunities are the most influential recruiting incentive. Let’s examine four keys to developing physician leadership.

  1. Develop a clear understanding of each physician’s strengths and weaknesses. In the business world, it is a common practice to identify the traits of the leadership team through the utilization of comprehensive assessments. Often referred to as 360- degree assessments, information is collected about team members through surveys and self-assessments. This process will not only identify the physicians with natural leadership skills and instincts, but it will also identify those that are not interested in pursuing leadership opportunities and may provide clues to other initiatives that will lead to better physician engagement.
  2. Design a program that works within your organization. Not all leadership development programs are going to look the same. In an article published by the American College of CHEST Physicians, one of the established best practices for creating a leadership program is to ensure it is developed as part of the organization’s overall strategic plan. Some organizations may be equipped or even prefer to handle all of the leadership training in-house while others are better suited to outsource leadership development to a third-party organization.
  3. Embrace Mentorship as part of the plan. Today, it is fairly common for younger physicians to already be connected to a mentor.  That may or may not continue as the physician progresses throughout their career.  As a component of a leadership development program, physician mentorship should not only be encouraged, administrators should help facilitate the process as much as possible.  Mentorship between an existing physician leader and one who is in the process of developing the skills and experiences necessary to take on a leadership role is a perfect complement to the formal coaching they are receiving.
  4. Create skill-building opportunities. Leadership development is as much about formal coaching and exposure to leadership concepts and best practices as it is about actual real-world experiences.  Providing tangible leadership opportunities cannot just be after program completion, they must be “baked in” along the way as much as possible.  In the early stages, leadership program participants can participate as part of search or review committees or membership on a task force. Allowing “trainees” to see how the skills they are developing works in actual organizational settings is a key component of growth. Additionally, exposing them to other organizational leaders early on allows them to develop a fuller picture of themselves as a future leader.

Organizational leadership is the foundation of the culture that exists in every aspect of the workplace. Developing personal and professional growth opportunities within the physician ranks will go a long way toward cultivating physician engagement and can ensure that future organizational leadership can come from within.

Jackson Physician Search leadership has decades of proven healthcare industry expertise. From developing recruiting and retention plans to understanding and improving your organizational culture, Jackson Physician Search has teams of professionals to help you tackle your toughest challenges. Contact us today to learn more about ways we can help you thrive.

Physician Workplace Culture

Why Relationships and Workplace Culture Matter to Physicians

Much has been written about the rising prevalence of burnout among today’s physicians, with estimates approaching up to 70% feeling the effects.

How Culture Affects Physician Retention

Culture and Physician Retention

Imagine a workplace where medical professionals at all levels are highly respectful. Too many hospitals today are losing valued physicians due to…

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[White Paper] Rural Recruitment: Results from the 2019 Rural Physician and Administration Survey

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President of Jackson Physician Search, Tony Stajduhar, reviews the results of our recent rural physician and administrators survey and provides a summary of action items administrators should consider when recruiting physicians to their community.

Rural Physician Recruitment: Results from the 2019 Rural Physician and Administration Survey

By Tony Stajduhar, President, Jackson Physician Search

The Current State of Rural Physician Recruitment

The number of physicians practicing in America’s rural areas is on the decline. From 2013 to 2015, the overall supply of physicians in the United States grew by 16,000 but the number of rural physicians declined by 1,400. These facts compound the problem that while 20 percent of the U.S. population is rural, only 12 percent of the primary care physicians work in a rural area. This survey reports the results from the perspective of rural hospital administrators and rural physicians. The insights lead to recommendations which may help with this growing disparity.

With all of the data trending in the wrong direction for rural healthcare administrators, the challenges of recruiting and retaining physicians to work in rural communities have reached new levels of urgency. In a perfect world, rural health systems would be able to allow the free market to dictate what they can offer physicians to practice in non-metropolitan areas, but that isn’t the case.

Many rural health administrators have had to address physician recruitment in more creative ways than just offering more compensation. However, a recent survey sponsored by Jackson Physician Search has identified that a gap exists between what administrators think is important to their physicians versus what the physicians claim are important to them.

This paper will review the results of what rural physicians say is essential to them in their practice setting in contrast to what rural health administrators identify as important to their physicians. Lastly, we will provide a summary of action items that rural health system administrators should consider when recruiting physicians to their community and what they need to do to keep them engaged.

Jackson Physician Search Physician Recruitment ROI White Paper

[White Paper] Physician Recruitment: The Cost to Hire and Return on Investment

If you’re looking to reduce your cost to hire and optimize your return on investment when it comes to physician recruitment, this white paper is for you.

Recruit Physician to Rural Communities

Successfully Recruit Physicians to Rural Communities

It’s challenging to successfully recruit physicians and even harder for rural communities. Let’s look at the current state of physician recruitment…

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Leverage Physician Compensation Survey Data to Improve Your Recruitment Results

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Every year there are a variety of physician compensation surveys published, each with varying degrees of detail and context. The charts and tables they contain deliver a wealth of information. To understand how each report defines compensation and the larger trends driving it, you need to read between the lines.

Here is our overview of the recently published surveys to get you started.

Modern Healthcare Physician Compensation Survey

This leading media source publishes a round-up of compensation data for 23 specialties as reported by 12 organizations, from recruitment and consulting firms to industry associations. The three-page survey reports average starting salaries, rather than average incomes. Salary and bonuses are included, but insurance, stock options, and benefits are not. Data points include:

  • Average cash compensation for that specialty
  • Percentage change between the current and previous year

Key Takeaways:

  • Physician pay increases appear to be slowing, possibly due to the rise in hospital employment, where salary (vs. bonuses) make up most of compensation for physicians.
  • Although primary care specialties are among the lowest paid, they scored the highest average starting pay increases.
  • Emergency, internal, family, and hospital medicine physicians saw average year-to-year pay increases of more than 3%.

MGMA DataDive Provider Compensation Data

The Medical Group Management Association gathers W-2 data directly from practice managers at over 5,800 organizations nationwide, providing a dataset of approximately 136,000 providers. Their data offers a complete picture of over 140 physician specialties based upon practice size, region, metropolitan statistical area and more. Benchmarks include:

  • Compensation – Including total pay, bonus/incentives, retirement and more
  • Productivity – Work RVUs, total RVUs, professional collections and charges
  • Benefit Metrics – Hours worked per week/year and weeks of vacation

Key Takeaways:

  • Primary care physician compensation increased by more than 10% over the past five years.
  • Depending on specialty, the difference in compensation between states can be in the range of $100,000 to $270,000.
  • Family medicine physicians saw a 12% rise in total compensation over the past five years, while their median number of work relative value units (wRVUs) remained flat. This reflects higher signing bonuses, continuing medical education stipends, relocation reimbursement and other cash incentives to attract and retain physicians.

AMGA Medical Group Compensation and Productivity Survey

The American Medical Group Association survey represents more than 105,000 clinical providers. Participants are primarily large multispecialty medical groups and integrated health systems. The average number of providers per participant group was approximately 380. Data includes:

  • Compensation
  • Net collections
  • Work RVUs
  • Compensation-to-productivity ratios

Key Takeaways:

  • Although compensation per relative value unit (work RVU) was higher than average, 2017 was the first-year physician compensation increased by less than 2% in over a decade.
  • Compensation increased only +0.89%.
  • The national median showed a decline in physician productivity by a weighted average of -1.63%, possibly related to growing administrative burdens on providers.

Doximity Physician Compensation Report

Doximity is known as the largest medical social network in the country – with over 70% of US doctors as verified members. Their report draws on the responses of more than 65,000 licensed U.S. doctors in 40 medical specialties. Physicians who are verified Doximity users can access an interactive salary map to drill down on compensation data combined with housing cost insights.

Their public report focuses on year-over-year trends in:

  • Physician compensation across Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs)
  • The gap in pay between male and female physicians
  • Absolute physician compensation across specialty, state, region, and gender

Key Takeaways:

  • There was a 4% increase in physician compensation nationally.
  • Less populated MSAs tend to have higher average compensation compared to larger cities.
  • The presence of large medical schools in an area ensures a stronger pipeline of doctors competing for a relatively fixed number of positions, which causes a dampening effect on compensation.

Medscape Physicians Compensation Report

Medscape is one of the most popular sources for physicians who use the report to access high-level salary trends and gauge how their peers feel about the challenges and rewards of practicing medicine. More than 20,000 physicians in 29 specialties responded to the online survey, and the results were weighted to the American Medical Association’s physician distribution by specialty. Information reported:

  • Annual Compensation by Specialty
  • Year-to-year Trends
  • Regional Averages

Key Takeaways:

  • Employed physicians comprised 69% of the respondent group versus 26% who are self-employed, with 5% not reporting.
  • Demand for specialists to help address behavioral health issues and the opioid crisis surged, highlighted by a year-to-year increase in psychiatry and physical medicine/rehabilitation.
  • Physicians cited altruistic reasons as the top three most rewarding parts of their job, with “making good money at a job I like” ranking fourth.

To learn more about the various compensation surveys and tools available, contact the industry experts at Jackson Physician Search today.

Close Recruitment Gaps

How to Close Physician Recruitment Gaps and Improve ROI in 2019

The time to invest in the implementation of key best practices to improve your hiring process and create success in the recruitment process is now. 

Physician’s Contribution

What is the ‘Physician’s Contribution’ Really Worth?

Simply put, the physician’s contribution relates to the typical inpatient and outpatient revenues, referral revenues, and other incomes not directly related to patient care.

 

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Physicians and Mental Health Access in the United States

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According to the Journal of American Medical Association, nearly 1 in 5 people in the U.S. are afflicted with some form of mental health condition.  If this trend isn’t concerning enough, the Health Resources and Services Administration reported in 2016 that the supply of select behavioral health professionals is 250,000 short of what the nation’s demand will be by the year 2025.  Not surprisingly, as the situation worsens over time, primary care physicians will have to shoulder the burden.

Long waiting lists for mental health services are nothing new in many communities across the U.S., and the unfortunate aspect is that many of these patients are giving up on treatment rather than waiting.

“I often have a patient who clearly needs to see a psychiatrist, but is unable to get an appointment for another six months!” -Dr. G., New Jersey

In other instances where mental health access is available, insurance plans with notoriously low coverage options are making it difficult for patients to get the coverage they need.

One positive development, although it is also contributing to the demand for mental health services exceeding supply, is that awareness efforts nationwide are lessening the social stigmas attached to mental health issues.  Further, the clear relationship between mental health and physical health are changing both attitudes and approaches to healthcare delivery in clinics and practices nationwide.

One model in practice, referred to as SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment), originated through a 2009 North Carolina Medical Journal paper.1 Research from that paper identified that approximately 70% of all primary care visits could be attributed to behavioral or mental health issues.  If nothing else, these staggering numbers clearly demonstrate the need for additional mental health services training in the primary care setting, but also the necessary linkage to mental health providers and services.

A 2016 Ohio State University College of Medicine study 2 concluded that while mental health screenings are important in primary care settings, additional training and education for providers on mental health issues and medications is critical.  Additionally, providers need to be more cognizant of the community mental and behavioral health services that are available and to ensure they are maintaining those relationships to key services for their patients.

“Innovative ways of creating access to mental health services include telepsychiatry, where the psychiatric resource is brought to the patient, rather than the other way around.” -Dr. H., Wisconsin

In many rural communities, the availability of mental health services is often a multiple hour drive away.  In these circumstances, providers are relying on technology to create accessibility to services. The utilization of telemedicine technology provides a platform for mental health care providers to evaluate, treat, and manage medications for their patient at a distance. Integrating that care in consult with the primary care physician or family practitioner allows them to work together and achieve better results.

As with every challenge that ultimately crops up within the healthcare industry, the solutions require multi-faceted approaches that are supported from the federal level on down through the state and local level. In many cases, the best solutions will originate at the local level and work up as opposed to down from the federal government.  At the federal level, legislators need to create more incentives for healthcare professionals to follow a mental health services tract, insurance companies must reinforce their subscriber’s ability to seek treatment by providing the coverage necessary and also to reimburse at appropriate levels. Locally, community leaders, physicians, and educators need to foster the linkage between physical care providers and mental health providers ensuring that those individuals that need treatment are referred consistently to the appropriate entity where they can receive the help they need.

 

1 Collins, Chris, North Carolina Medical Journal, “Integrating Behavioral and Mental Health Services into the Primary Care Setting”, 2009.
2 Murray, Kelsey, Ohio State University College of Medicine, “A Survey of Mental Health Needs in a Primary Care Setting”, 2016

 

reducing paper to help combat physician burnout

Reducing Paperwork to Help Combat Physician Burnout

In January, Medscape released the results of their 2019 National Physician Burnout, Depression & Suicide Report.  This comprehensive report collected information from 15,000 physicians in 29 different…

Physician Bonuses and Benefits

Understanding Physician Bonuses and Benefits

Physician salaries continue to rise, although more modestly than in years past. You may find that hard to believe considering the 24-7 handwringing over…

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Mental Health Access: By the Numbers

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The well-discussed physician shortage is affecting healthcare across the country and across specialties.  But, when it comes to mental health professionals, the numbers look even worse.  For context, the Health Resources and Services Administration states that 55.3 million Americans live in a federally designated primary care shortage area, while an astonishing 89.3 million live in a similarly designated mental health professional shortage area.  Those numbers, worrisome enough on their own, are even more concerning when you consider rural areas. Even though urban clinics often have long waiting lists for mental health providers, rural clinics often have no mental health provider at all.

According to Mental Health America, although there has been a slight decrease in the number of adults who have a mental health condition from 2015 to today, there are still 44 million adults suffering from a mental health condition.  Conversely, the number of youth experiencing a mental health condition has increased in the past four years.  Data shows that 3.1 million youth (ages 12 – 17) have suffered from at least one major depressive event in the past year, and another 1.1 million are suffering from a substance use disorder. Nationally, only 25% of youth with severe depression receive some form of consistent treatment. Barriers to youth treatment include late recognition in primary care settings and limited coverage of mental health services.

Improving Access to Mental Health Care Services

More than half of those who experience some form of mental illness in a year do not, or in many cases cannot get treatment.  Clearly, whether it is a lack of providers, insurance, or general confusion about how to get the necessary treatment, far too many individuals are not getting the help they need. Here are a few initiatives that may help improve access to mental health care services.

  1. Primary Care Integration – Even in underserved communities, most individuals have access to a primary care physician. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) is supportive of building up capacity for mental health care through additional screening in the primary care setting and flagging patients who need further evaluation by a mental health provider. Many primary care offices are filling the gap with Physician Assistants with mental health specialization. Known as ‘Collaborative Care,’ having access to these front-line providers means additional screening, the implementation of initial treatment plans, and the ability to perform consultation and referral services when necessary.
  2. Technology – Never to be mistaken for replacing a practitioner, new technologies can be used to expand the reach of existing mental health providers. Video conferencing is being used to overcome the lack of access in underserved communities. Another effective use of technology is the utilization of software-based cognitive behavioral therapy where trial results are demonstrating it as a promising option to in-person therapy.
  3. Legislative Initiatives – The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are encouraging states to create innovative payment methodologies for telemedicine. Evidence exists that shows telemedicine not being reimbursed or reimbursed at a lower level which discourages mental health providers from expanding their services through telemedicine technology. Other legislative opportunities include revising licensure requirements allowing mental health providers to provide services, including telemedicine services, across state lines. Eighteen states have adopted the Federation of State Medical Boards’ compact which expedites licensure for out of state physicians, including psychiatrists. Similar multistate compacts for other mental health professionals are in the early stages of development.

The results of 37 randomized studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), confirmed that collaborative care is effective in improving short-term outcomes and includes evidence of longer-term benefits.  The collaborative care interventions that were included in the JAMA study included a wide range of approaches from face-to-face evaluations to telephone interviews to video conferencing.

Healthcare administrators faced with making critical decisions in providing a broad spectrum of care in the most cost-effective manner will continue considering whether a collaborative care model is appropriate for their system. Data highlighted in an article published by the National Institutes of Health showed that 69% of patients with depression only present physical ailments during their primary care visit. Another study concluded that the higher the number of physical symptoms reported the greater the likelihood of the patient having an underlying mood disorder.

Above all else, mental health care systems are going to continue changing in the face of expanding mental health needs. The opioid crisis is stretching addiction treatment providers to the limit while growing depression and anxiety disorders in our nation’s youth are forcing care systems to develop innovative ways to improve access and reduce the stigmas of mental health care. Currently, there is no consensus on the most effective configuration for a collaborative care approach to meet the mental health needs of a community. In many cases, where it is fiscally viable, additional psychiatric staff in tandem with primary care providers may be the appropriate answer, while in other situations, integrating technologies may be an effective way to expand mental health access.

Rural Primary Care Physician

How Smart Recruitment Helped An FQHC Expand Services

The state of Healthcare for FQHCs and Rural Communities According to data published by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the U.S. will have a projected shortage of physicians that…

Digital Recruitment Strategy

A Digital Recruitment Strategy Can Solve Your Physician Recruitment Challenges

This is the first article in a two-part series on developing an effective digital recruitment strategy. Is your organization finding it harder to recruit physicians to fill your vacancies?  Is the physician shortage…

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Reducing Paperwork to Help Combat Physician Burnout

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In January, Medscape released the results of their 2019 National Physician Burnout, Depression & Suicide Report.  This comprehensive report collected information from 15,000 physicians in 29 different specialties.  While 44% of physician respondents reported feeling burned out, and another 15% reported being colloquially or clinically depressed, the driver behind these responses may surprise you. Almost 60% of respondents reported that they are burdened by too many bureaucratic tasks like charting and paperwork.  The next closest factor as identified in the survey was spending too many hours at work which came in at 34%.

Clearly, if physicians are telling us that working too many hours is contributing to their feelings of burnout, imagine how frustrating it would be to know that paperwork and bureaucracy is one of the leading reasons for your long work days. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine determined that for every hour a doctor is treating patients, they are spending two hours on paperwork! Burdensome clerical activity is even creeping into the time physicians are examining their patients as the study found that almost 37% of the face-to-face patient time is spent on electronic health records (EHR) and other clerical work.

Ways to reduce administrative burdens

If the results of these studies sound all too familiar, here are several ways you can alleviate some of that workload and free up more time to spend on patient care.

Get Involved – Believe it or not, health care industry leaders and federal agencies all realize that change is needed to allow physicians to spend more time focused on their patient and less on recordkeeping. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is initiating changes to reduce the administrative burden on Physicians as part of its comprehensive “Patients over Paperwork” initiative. Physicians that have identified confusing and/or time consuming documentation are encouraged to report them to ReducingProviderBurden@cms.hhs.gov.

Share the Burden – Physicians at UCLA Health and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center are reducing the amount of time they spend on documentation through new virtual note-taking technology, Our Notes. Developed by OpenNotes, the concept promotes having the patients participate in the note-taking process in collaboration with the physician.  Research has shown that involving the patient in documenting the visit leads to increased patient engagement and improved communication between the physician and the patient.

Smart Glasses – Another exciting tech development that healthcare organizations are piloting involves Google’s Smart Glasses.  Recently relaunched, the Smart Glasses are set up to link with proprietary software, like Augmedix, a remote scribe service that records all of the clinical notes for the physician.  Clinicians who are using this technology report that the device is shaving as much as 30% from their administrative time which can be used for additional patients or improving their quality of life.

Whether through regulatory changes, technology, or even hiring additional support staff, like Medical Assistants, healthcare industry leaders realize that changes need to be made to support physicians.  More doctors are feeling the effects of burnout and reducing the amount of time they are spending on documentation and bureaucracy is one way to help them manage their work-related pressures.

If you are ready to explore new career opportunities or find an organization that is a better fit for you personally and professionally, contact a Jackson Physician Search recruitment professional today.  Our team has decades of industry experience and a nationwide reach to find you the best fit for the next step in your career.

 

Physicians Can Improve Their Job Satisfaction

Five Ways Physicians Can Improve Their Job Satisfaction

Is your career as a physician becoming less satisfying?  Ranked as one of the most trusted professions, some doctors today are not feeling the…

What You Should Know About Physician Compensation

What You Should Know About Physician Compensation

Physician salaries are increasing at a slower pace. According to the AMGA, 2017 was the first year that physician compensation increased by less than 2% in…

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Why Relationships and Workplace Culture Matter to Physicians

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Much has been written about the rising prevalence of burnout among today’s physicians, with estimates approaching up to 70% feeling the effects.  Unfortunately, when approaches on how to improve physician wellness and reduce burnout are addressed, they are usually centered upon self-care, practicing mindfulness, self-awareness and other strategies that place much of the burden on the physician themselves.  Organizations and administrators who are placing the burnout burden right back on the shoulders of their own physicians are losing sight of a much larger issue.

Physician wellness is directly impacted by workplace culture.  That is not to discount other underlying factors, including work hours, patient loads, and administrative burdens, lack of autonomy, excessive bureaucracy, and other frustrations.  What hospital administrators and executives might be overlooking is the fact that one of the top reasons physicians leave a job is a lack of cultural fit and not compensation.  Gallup reported a direct link between staff understanding an organization’s purpose and culture and the achievement of quality healthcare.

Physicians, like most people who have spent their life building a career, want a sense of fulfillment and personal accomplishment.  And, to achieve that holistically, it needs to encompass more than the patient-facing aspect of their professional life.  When they, like any employee, feels engaged in their work for an organization that espouses values similar to their own, they are happier and less likely to suffer from negative stressors.  A recent Mayo Clinic White Paper on Executive Leadership and Physician Well-being outlined nine strategies to promote physician engagement and reduce burnout.  Among the findings included organizational leaders having to acknowledge that there is a problem.  A Jackson Physician Search survey showed that administrators believe their physicians are much more in alignment with the organization than the physicians are in reality.  One consideration in finding out if there is a gap between belief and reality is through improved communication with staff at all levels.  Others rely on annual surveys to get the feedback they need to take appropriate actions.

Another strategy identified by the Mayo Clinic paper recommends cultivating community in the workplace. This goes further than celebrating achievements and having pot luck luncheons.  More importantly, it is fostering the unique relationships that physicians have with their colleagues. In the past, a physician’s lounge was a place where doctors would go to discuss shared experiences, develop interpersonal connections, and seek and provide critical peer support.  Today’s focus on productivity requirements, administrative burdens, and other clerical demands have contributed to the erosion of these collegial relationships and can lead to feelings of frustration and isolation for the physicians.

Strengthening values and culture is a strategy that most health care organizations, until recently, have not given the weight of importance that it deserves.  In most healthcare-related organizations, the mission statement speaks to serving patients and providing compassionate, quality care.  What’s often missing is that to achieve that mission, an organization’s culture, values, and principles must be in alignment, thereby creating the foundation for achievement.

Other strategies to promote physician engagement, as discussed in the Mayo Clinic report, include the promotion of flexibility and work-life integration, providing the resources for self-care, and facilitating organizational studies to research new approaches supporting their physician team.

To see all nine strategies for physician well-being from the Mayo Clinic report, click here.

To learn more about how culture, values, and fit matter when filling your physician or advanced practice vacancies, contact the industry experts at Jackson Physician Search today.

 

How Culture Affects Physician Retention

Culture and Physician Retention

Imagine a workplace where medical professionals at all levels are highly respectful. Too many hospitals today are losing…

Physician Burnout and Cultural Fit

The Link Between Physician Burnout and Cultural Fit

Physicians today are suffering the effects of burnout at higher rates than ever before.  If someone were to…

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How Smart Recruitment Helped An FQHC Expand Services

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The state of Healthcare for FQHCs and Rural Communities

According to data published by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the U.S. will have a projected shortage of physicians that could reach over 120,000 by the end of the next decade.  Especially hard hit are rural communities, served by Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), which are dealing with primary care shortages and also a lack of resources to address other healthcare needs.  In communities throughout the U.S., healthcare providers are struggling with an increased demand for behavioral, mental health and addiction treatment services.  In rural America, the problem is compounded because FQHCs are often relying on family practice physicians to provide these expanded services to the community.

In 2000, Congress passed the Drug Addiction Treatment Act, known as DATA 2000, allowing physicians to prescribe FDA-approved medications for the treatment of addiction and other mental health needs. Originally, DATA 2000 was enacted with restrictions limiting the number of patients a family care practitioner can treat at one time under the plan.  As the mental and behavioral health needs of the community grow, practitioners at FQHCs are applying for waivers that expand the number of patients they can treat under DATA 2000.

This scenario serves to illustrate how critical it is for FQHCs in rural communities to effectively recruit and retain primary care physicians who not only have the skills but are willing to earn the certifications necessary to meet the behavioral and mental health needs of their communities. Today, according to the National Association of Community Health Centers, almost 70% of Health Centers have a physician vacancy.

How one Rural FQHC Expanded Services and Access to Care

In many communities, the local health center is the sole healthcare provider available to the residents who live there.  FQHCs operate under federal funding and often rely on grants and other creative funding sources for recruitment purposes and expansion of services when needed.  Recently, an FQHC located in rural Vermont was dealing with a primary care vacancy at the same time they were trying to expand their mental health services offering.  Because of the length of time needed to fill vacancies in the past, they turned to Jackson Physician Search for help in meeting the stringent timeline associated with a federal grant they had received.  The grant funding was set to expire within a few months leading the FQHC to find a recruitment partner with national reach and a proven success rate.  Their requirement called for a family care physician who had experience treating all age groups and would also be willing and able to meet the certification requirements for a DATA 2000 waiver.  The waiver was a critical component of the FQHCs expansion of services for the growing mental and behavioral health needs of their community.  Ultimately, JPS presented a successful candidate that met the family practice requirements, was open to an accelerated relocation process, and will have the DATA 2000 waiver certification completed within the time required.

The above recruitment story is all too familiar to many FQHC Administrators.  As the primary care shortage continues impacting the healthcare industry, health centers will be navigating these challenges while finding new ways to serve their communities.

If your organization has a physician recruitment need, contact the professionals at Jackson Physician Search to find out how we can help.

Physician Recruitment Issues Affecting FQHC

What to Do About the Biggest Physician Recruitment Issues Affecting FQHC’s in 2019

As physician recruitment becomes even more competitive each year, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) are feeling the brunt of the challenges. Jackson Physician Search…

Extreme Physician Shortage

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The combination of the current workforce shortage and an ineffective recruitment strategy can be costly to your organization and the community. The physician shortage…

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2019 Hiring Outlook for Residents

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If 2019 is your last year of residency, you are probably in the full-on throes of securing your first job post-residency!  While it can be a stressful time, it is also an opportunity to solidify the notion of getting your physician career off to a successful start.  Since 2019 will be spent exploring opportunities, let’s take a look at what is in store for Residents this year.

The good news is that you chose a career that is in high demand and will be for the foreseeable future.  In 2018, physician jobs grew by 7% compared to 5.1% in 2017.  As the national economy continues to grow, more people will be in the workforce, presumably leading to more individuals having company provided healthcare.  Here are several things to consider when exploring your post-residency job opportunities.

Geography Matters.  As it does in real estate, location can play a large part in deciding on your first job.  Those who are flexible in where they settle down will have greater choice and opportunities.  For example, while physician job postings across the board grew significantly in 2018, the overall demand was highly dependent upon geography. Growth was highest in areas like Tucson (20%), Los Angeles and Chicago (19%), Little Rock, Arkansas (18%), and Baltimore (17%).

Consider going country.  Many young physicians are drawn to large urban areas with the idea that it is where they will earn the most money.  While true in many cases, it also comes with its share of cautionary tales.  Large urban practices are not for everybody, and some young doctors can get lost in the shuffle.  An alternative may be to practice in a rural setting where you may have an opportunity to begin your career with better work/life balance.  Practicing in a smaller community setting gives you a sense of stature, and forces you to utilize all of your skills (and develop new ones).  Plus, compensation concerns are not the issue they were in the past.

Do your homework.  Because of the demand market, there is no need to jump at the first opportunity you are presented with during your job search.  Instead, treat each opportunity as you would a puzzling medical condition. Avoid jumping right in with a decision and do some homework on the organization. How stable is their leadership team, do they have a solid strategic plan for addressing the rapidly changing healthcare landscape?  If it is a smaller physician practice, what is their rate of turnover, are any key players planning to leave or retire? Understanding the business is just as important as the nuts and bolts of any offers they are presenting.

Culture and fit matters.  As important as it is for you to understand the organization as a business, it is equally important to understand its workplace culture.  The interview process is a good place to assess the culture of a potential work environment.  Spend some time in the coffee shop or cafeteria and strike up a conversation with some of the physicians or residents you meet. If it is an opportunity out of state or in a location you are unfamiliar with, spend time in the community, and visit the chamber of commerce to learn about recreational and cultural activities.  All of this matters if you want to set yourself up for making the right decision.

Only you can determine the best “first” job for your career as a physician.  It takes introspection to determine what type of practice setting is going to be your best opportunity for success. No physician wants to jump into what they thought was the perfect opportunity, only to find themselves exhausted, disillusioned, and back out on a new job search within a few short years.

If you are looking for a career partner that can help you navigate the process of finding a successful opportunity post-residency, Jackson Physician Search has an experienced team of recruitment professionals and a nationwide network of relationships to help you find your best fit. Contact us today.

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Overcoming the Extreme Physician Shortage in 2019

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For several years now, healthcare industry thought leaders have been telling us that there was a looming physician shortage on the horizon.  Initially, it was reported that primary care was going to be the hardest hit because of an aging baby boomer population, an influx of newly covered patients through the Affordable Care Act, and the fact that over 30% of active physicians will be 65 or older by the year 2030. The initial primary and urgent care perspective still rings true. However, the physician shortage is actually impacting specialties across the spectrum of care.

According to Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) research data, the primary care shortage can be as many as 43,100 by the year 2030, while non-primary care specialties may experience a shortfall of up to 61,000 physicians.  Within those numbers, certain specialties, such as emergency medicine, neurology, psychiatry, anesthesiology, and others may experience a shortage of between 18,600 and 31,800 by the year 2030.

As concerning as the data is currently, it may actually get worse before it gets better. There is a large segment of our population that remains underserved.  According to AAMC data, as barriers to utilization are lifted through health law changes, more non-insured Americans are accessing health care.  Studies show that if all Americans accessed health care at the same levels as those who have typical employer-sponsored health care, we would need close to 100,000 additional physicians to provide their care.

There are no easy solutions to resolve the physician shortage crisis, but here are a few things worth keeping an eye on throughout the rest of 2019.

Increase residency programs.  Medical schools have taken steps to increase class sizes, yet the federal bureaucracy hasn’t increased support for residency programs commensurately.  The AAMC is calling on lawmakers to increase residency slots by an additional 3,000 annually for five years to support an increase in practicing physicians.

Streamline licensing process for international medical school graduates.  Did you know that almost 25% of today’s physician workforce are international medical graduates? Studies show that while these international graduates provide care on par or better than U.S. trained doctors, they face a cumbersome and complex licensure process to practice here. Further, they are required to complete redundant training programs here in the U.S. before licensure. At the risk of oversimplification, lawmakers and healthcare industry leaders should be able to resolve this by promoting legislation that simplifies the process.

Rising salaries and creative compensation.  Since 2013, salaries for Primary Care physicians have risen 10%, and in many cases more based on geographic location.  Because competition for physician services is so fierce, healthcare organizations are finding new and creative ways to entice candidates to their vacancies.  Signing bonuses and tuition repayment is one way that physicians are making more money, but other enticements include flexible scheduling, reduction or elimination of “call,” and much more.  Facilities in rural and underserved areas are feeling the recruitment crunch because the enticements they used to be able to offer exclusively, are now becoming commonplace.

Balancing non-physician utilization and technology.  Most organizations have focused their physician shortage efforts on developing a greater reliance on non-physicians.  Nurse practitioners, physician assistants and locum tenens are all being used in greater numbers to fill workforce vacancies. Additionally, technologic innovations can also serve to increase access to care and increase the efficiency of monitoring and managing a chronic condition. Mobile health technology and the utilization of biometric sensors are increasingly more popular among individuals who are interested in being more involved in their healthcare.

Jackson Physician Search can help your organization address both short- and long-term physician shortage strategies.  Our recruitment professionals have decades of industry experience, and our thought leadership can provide you with proven strategies to improve your physician recruitment and retention programs.  Contact us today to learn more.

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