Survey Reveals Costly Disconnect Between Physicians and Hospitals About Retirement

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MGMA19 | The Annual Conference

New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center

Booth 1427

 

ATLANTA and NEW ORLEANS ― (Oct. 14, 2019) — While physicians often feel it’s their responsibility to initiate a conversation about retirement plans with hospitals, many of them think much less notice is necessary than hospital administrators would find ideal. In a new survey from Jackson Physician Search, a firm specializing in the permanent recruitment of physicians and advanced practice providers to hospitals and other healthcare providers, many physicians felt that less than six months of notice was reasonable, despite hospital administrators preferring a one to three year notice period.

 

This week, during the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) Annual Conference in New Orleans, Jackson Physician Search President Tony Stajduhar will share key findings from the company’s newly released study, “The Realities of Physician Retirement: A Survey of Physicians and Healthcare Administrators.”

 

“Given that a hospital can easily lose $150,000 per month if a specialist leaves and a search for a medical or surgical specialist can take anywhere from five to 10 months, the stakes are high with this disconnect between physicians and administrators about notices of retirement,” said Stajduhar. “The findings in our study highlight the importance of creating the right culture and processes around physician retirement, including effective transition processes and ongoing recruiting efforts, to avoid the downside of a vacancy or understaffing situation.”

 

The survey, which was conducted in August of 2019, included responses from 567 doctors across a range of specialties and 100 administrators from throughout the country. Among the key findings:

 

  • Physicians feel it’s their responsibility to initiate the retirement conversation, but they are less comfortable doing so than administrators. A large majority of physicians (80 percent) said it’s their responsibility to broach the subject compared with 37 percent of administrators, yet less of them (52 percent) are comfortable discussing retirement plans than administrators (74 percent).

 

  • Physicians and administrators have vastly different opinions on what the ideal notice period is for a retirement timeline. Almost 50 percent of administrators indicated the ideal notice was one to three years, while 40 percent of physicians felt six months or less was sufficient. Further, 34 percent of physicians said they weren’t required to give any notice of retirement, while 81 percent of administrators said they were required to give more than three months.

 

  • Physicians’ drivers for retirement include lifestyle, financial stability, burnout and frustration with the current state of medicine. While physicians cited lifestyle issues (44 percent) as the most important reason driving their retirement decision, followed by financial stability (23 percent), comments from nearly 20 percent noted burnout and frustration with the current state of medicine and decreased focus on patient care.

 

  • Administrators assume that many physicians will fully retire, but a number of them plan to work elsewhere. Almost 40 percent of administrators named full retirement as a top retirement transition method at their organization. However, the study indicated that just 17 percent of physicians were planning to do so. In contrast, 28 percent of doctors said they will work part or full time somewhere else.

These and other findings in the Jackson Physician Search research are significant. By 2020, one in three physicians will be over age 65 and approaching retirement. That, coupled with the fact that recruiting an experienced, culturally-aligned physician can be a timely and complicated process for hospital administrators, adds to the complexity.

 

“Although there is hesitancy about initiating a conversation about retirement, it is clear that both administrators and physicians feel that it’s a beneficial discussion for both parties,” added Stajduhar. “Differences remain on length of notice and whose responsibility it is to bring up retirement, but when handled respectfully and conducted in a non-discriminatory way, both parties can find the ideal way to approach retirement transitions through proper planning and processes.”

 

The complete report on the survey results is available here: https://www.jacksonphysiciansearch.com/white-paper-the-realities-of-physician-retirement-a-survey-of-physicians-and-healthcare-administrators/

 

Jackson Physician Search

Jackson Physician Search is an established industry leader in physician recruitment and pioneered the recruitment methodologies standard in the industry today. The firm specializes in the permanent recruitment of physicians and advanced practice providers for hospitals, health systems, academic medical centers and medical groups across the United States. Headquartered in Alpharetta, Ga., the company is recognized for its track record of results built on client trust and transparency of processes and fees. Jackson Physician Search is part of the Jackson Healthcare® family of companies. For more information, visit www.jacksonphysiciansearch.com.

 

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Media Contact:                                                                                                

Jan Sisko

Carabiner Communications

jsisko@carabinercomms.com

(678) 461-7438

[White Paper] The Realities of Physician Retirement: A Survey of Physicians and Healthcare Administrators

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One of the major factors of the impending physician shortage is the aging physician workforce. We recently conducted a survey including practicing physicians and health administrators to better understand the situation. This whitepaper includes our findings and conclusions. Feel free to download and share.

By 2020, one in three physicians will be over age 65 and approaching retirement. For hospital administrators, recruiting an experienced physician is a complicated process that takes significant time. An open position is costly in terms of lost revenue and the potential loss of both patient satisfaction and staff morale.

Given that a hospital can easily lose $150,000 per month if a specialist leaves and that a search for a medical or surgical specialist takes five to 10 months, the stakes are high. New research from Jackson Physician Search―that surveyed both practicing physicians and healthcare administrators―highlights the importance of creating the right culture and processes around physician retirement, including effective transition processes and ongoing recruiting efforts, to avoid the negatives of a vacancy or understaffing situation.

Among the key findings:

  • Physicians’ drivers for retirement include lifestyle, financial stability, burnout and frustration with the current state of medicine. While physicians cited lifestyle issues (44 percent) as the most important reason driving their retirement decision, followed by financial stability (23 percent), comments from nearly 20 percent of them noted burnout and frustration with the increased focus on paperwork and patient volume as well as decreased focus on patient care.
  • Physicians feel it’s their responsibility to initiate the retirement conversation, but they are less comfortable doing so than administrators. A large majority of physicians (80 percent) said it’s their responsibility to broach the subject compared with 37 percent of administrators, yet less of them (52 percent) are comfortable discussing retirement plans than administrators (74 percent).
  • Physicians and administrators have vastly different opinions on what the ideal notice period is for a retirement timeline. Almost 50 percent of administrators indicated the ideal notice was one to three years, while 40 percent of physicians felt six months or less was sufficient. Also, 34 percent of physicians said they weren’t required to give any notice of retirement, while 81 percent of administrators said they were required to give more than three months.
  • Administrators assume that many physicians will fully retire, but a number of them plan to work elsewhere. Almost 40 percent of administrators named full retirement as a top retirement transition method at their organization, but just 17 percent of physicians were planning to do so. In contrast, 28 percent of doctors say they will work part or full time somewhere else.

Although there is hesitancy about initiating a conversation about retirement, it is clear that both administrators and physicians feel that it’s a beneficial discussion for both parties. Differences remain on length of notice and whose responsibility it is to bring up retirement, but when handled respectfully and conducted in a non-discriminatory way, both parties can find the ideal way to transition the retirement with proper planning and processes.

Survey Methodology and Demographics

To find out how both physicians and hospital administrators approach physician retirement and transition planning, we surveyed both groups on a range of related topics. These included the age of retirement, drivers for making the decision, requirements and timeframe for giving notice, comfort with having the conversation and whose responsibility it was to initiate it. Other questions were related to the retirement transition itself and interest in employer retirement incentives.

A total of 567 physicians and surgeons from a wide range of specialties responded to the survey. Physician respondents were distributed throughout the United States, roughly based on state population. Half of them described their communities as suburban and just 15 percent noted rural. Most respondents (61 percent) were between the ages of 50 and 69, and the majority were male (71 percent).

There were 100 hospital administrator respondents to the survey, many of which were C-level executives, followed by directors and administrators in a variety of recruiting and human resources functions. The administrators were distributed across the country, but a larger proportion (40 percent) were from self-described rural communities. As with the physician respondents, most were between the ages of 50 and 69 (63 percent), although the majority of administrator respondents were female (55 percent).

Drivers for Physician Retirement

In the survey, administrators report the average age for retirement at their healthcare facility as 65, which is in line with the age of 63 as determined by analysis of U.S. Census data. Not surprisingly, physicians named lifestyle (44 percent) and financial stability (23 percent) as top drivers for retirement. Likewise, administrators also perceive lifestyle (48 percent) as a top driver, although they found health reasons (15 percent) the second most prevalent motive, which was close to three times more than what physicians cited. Administrators were also less likely to think that financial stability (14 percent) was the most common reason physicians made a retirement decision.

More than 17 percent of physicians indicated “Other” as the top reason for retirement, compared with just 10 percent of administrators. Many physicians indicated burnout and frustration with the state of medicine in the United States, as noted in the following comments:

  • Managed care, whether private or government, has made the practice of medicine too adversarial to enjoy enough to consider delaying retirement.
  • Medicine has turned into a quagmire of regulatory burdens, collecting data, and the destruction of physician’s autonomy and authority in individual patient care.
  • Doctors are no longer able to practice medicine with the primary objective of patient well-being!!
  • It has become too onerous to practice. The focus is on increasing volume with less and less pay. Also, the practices are running leaner which shifts more and more clerical work onto doctors. Add to these issues the increasing testing and “boutique” results reporting and you have a formula for high stress with diminishing satisfaction and diminished returns.

Having the Retirement Conversation

When it comes to initiating the retirement conversation, survey results show that the topic weighs more heavily on the physician, and that there is room for administrators to make the discussion more comfortable, both for the benefit of the physician and the organization. A large majority of physicians (80 percent) said it’s their responsibility to broach the retirement subject compared with 37 percent of administrators, yet less of physicians (52 percent) are comfortable discussing retirement plans than administrators (74 percent). One physician noted that “succession should always be a part of the hiring discussion and empowerment to plan and mentor over time.”

On the administrator side, almost 30 percent cited “Other” when asked whose responsibility it was to start talking about retirement. The following comments from physicians in this category indicated an acknowledgment that they had difficulty broaching the subject―and that there is a need for a more formal, yet inviting process, especially given the long lead time needed to recruit a physician:

  • MDs usually initiate, but if they are having trouble, the administrator or group president will initiate the conversation.
  • I believe our physicians are not very comfortable with the conversation, so we (HR) have provided them with a script and talking points to assist with these conversations.
  • Ultimately, it should be the physician, but there is a hesitancy to do so. Therefore, we have tried to make it a collaborative discussion between the physician and the physician leader.
  • We periodically send surveys to the physicians, asking that they let us know if they are considering retirement in the next 1 to 3 years, as the recruitment process is lengthy.
  • The organization views it as the physician’s responsibility. However, as a recruiter needing lead time, I’d like a plan to approach the physicians and have administration address succession planning. I’ve been pressing for this almost five years without success.

The Realities of Giving Notice

Physicians and administrators have vastly different perspectives on what the ideal notice period is for providing a retirement timeline, a finding that might partially be explained by the lack of conversation and practices regarding retirement in general. Almost 50 percent of administrators indicated the ideal notice was one to three years, while 40 percent of physicians indicated it was 6 months or less. Also, 34 percent of physicians said they weren’t required to give any notice of retirement at all, while 81 percent of administrators said they were required to give more than three months.

When administrators were asked how much notice they typically receive when a physician plans to retire, their answers ranged from a high of three years to a low of one month, with an average of 10 months. The most common notice period cited was six months, which was in line with what physicians reported as the ideal notice period. Given the timeline for locating a physician and the fact that 40 percent of physicians thought 6 months or less was an ideal notice, administrators should consider the practice of ongoing recruitment of candidates to make sure there are no gaps in care and revenue.

The Retirement Transition

Physicians in the survey indicated some differing ideas about the retirement transition than administrators might assume, which possibly indicates they are looking for greater flexibility in their transition process. Almost 40 percent of administrators named full retirement as a top retirement transition method at their organization, but just 17 percent of physicians were planning to do so and almost 28 percent of doctors say they will work part or full time somewhere else. Some of the doctors listing “Other” planned to pursue locum tenens work or pro re nata (PRN) and telemedicine options that let them dictate their own schedules, while others looked to potentially help with recruiting, mentoring and managerial tasks at their current practice.

Many physicians (47 percent) were interested in retirement information planning services, but only half of administrators indicated those are offered. Comments from physicians indicated the vast majority of them were, not surprisingly, most interested in financial and healthcare planning. Physicians in the survey were also looking for help with the general process of retirement, along with ways to explore part-time or non-clinical options, as noted in these comments:

  • There is a need for an outline and timeline of what needs to be done, as well as the contact people to facilitate the process.
  • I would like to know the steps for the retirement process and how/when to transition to Medicare health coverage. I am also interested in opportunities for part-time work with the same employer, along with pay/benefit information.
  • It would be helpful to know how to manage before full retirement age.
  • I would like to know what part-time work is available once I retire that may or may not include clinical care.

When asked if employer-sponsored incentives would induce them to start an early retirement process, 50 percent of physicians agreed it would, with most requesting financial and/or healthcare benefits. Others were looking for part-time employment opportunities. However, nearly all administrators (95 percent) indicated they offered no incentives to initiate an earlier retirement approach so that staff planning was more seamless.

 

 

Conclusion

The survey results indicate that there is a need for more formal processes surrounding physician retirement, especially given the ongoing shortage of doctors in the United States. To help both hospitals and physicians with the retirement transition, administrators should:

  • Develop non-discriminatory ways of approaching the retirement conversation. HR and physician leaders should work together to create a step-by-step process for when and how to approach the conversation, which might even occur as early as during the hiring process. Having such a process makes the physician feel less singled out for the discussion. In addition, routine surveys on retirement plans can open the lines of communication.
  • Offer incentives to initiate an early retirement process. To encourage earlier notice of retirement from physicians, administrator should consider incentives like a percentage of pay for earlier notice, health benefits for a specified time period, and relief from call duties.
  • Create flexible offerings like part-time or non-clinical work. For financial and other reasons, such as benefits, many physicians would like to continue working, which could ease the burden during the onboarding process for a new physician. Having a process for scheduled conversations about retirement can help prepare for a situation where several physicians retire at once, which would include extra scheduling activities and other administrative tasks. However, given the high costs of a full vacancy, these costs could easily be justified.
  • Adopt a continuous recruitment process instead of treating a physician vacancy as a one-off occurrence. This will ensure that the physician candidate pipeline is full in the event that one or more physicians are transitioning to retirement. By maintaining relationships with qualified candidates, the organization is not starting at the ground floor of recruitment and can quickly adjust to unforeseen issues with retirement transitions.

With the proper planning and processes built on more open communications, hospital administrators can avoid understaffing and continue to provide the best possible patient care. Starting early in a physician’s career with these processes can make the transition and succession planning more comfortable for all parties and support more optimal recruiting efforts.

Let Branded Recruitment Work for You

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Has your healthcare organization developed a brand that is recognizable to local consumers and gives them a glimpse into your values and culture?  If not, you may be missing out on consumers who would choose your facility for their healthcare needs, as well as physicians you are trying to recruit.  It is critical that you use your brand throughout your recruitment process, but remember that it’s more than just a logo and tagline. Rather, it represents an embodiment of your staff, your values, and the type and quality of care you provide to your patients.

As important as branding is for your organization, overall, it is just as important in attracting the right physicians to join your team.  Physicians today are much more likely to join organizations that they perceive to share similar culture and values. Jackson Physician Search understands the importance of branding and offers branded physician recruitment.  Branded recruitment is a level of partnership with a recruitment agency that goes to the next level. A recruitment agency’s resources and expertise are combined with the branding of the organization. Job postings and emails have the logo of the organization and include more detail about the opportunity.

How Branded Recruitment Works for You

Whether you are an administrator at a rural FQHC or a multi-facility health system, branded recruitment offers you an opportunity to expand and improve your recruitment process.  A smaller facility or health system may not have the resources to run a national recruitment campaign.  In many instances, those who are doing the recruiting are already wearing multiple hats. Finding a trusted physician recruitment partner who can manage a branded search for your vacancy immediately adds experienced resources to your search effort.  And, in the case of a large health system with an established team of recruiters, today’s hiring landscape is probably stretching them to capacity.  Large systems can utilize their recruitment partner for specific searches, for example, the primary care and internal medicine vacancies, while the in-house team focuses on all of the specialties.  Both of these scenarios creates a win-win situation because, with branded recruitment, the physicians only see your facility name and brand.  Let’s look at other ways a branded recruitment strategy can work for you.

  • Using a branded recruitment strategy with a trusted, experienced recruitment partner immediately provides you with a nationwide reach and access to hundreds of passive and active physician applicants. AAMC reports that physicians in Georgia remain in the state after completing their education at a rate of 49.8% and 62.1% in Texas.
  • Digital branding of your ads and emails seamlessly appear to the candidates as coming from your facility and location. Studies show that branded emails generate up to a 50% higher response rate than generic emails or job board postings.
  • Having a recruitment partner managing your brand presence for physician vacancies improves your brand awareness and visibility, helping you now and in future searches.
  • Your recruitment partnership is an exclusive agreement that takes the time-consuming vetting process off of your team’s plate, allowing them to focus on other critical matters of the business. You are only presented with the candidates who fit your organizational culture and values.

Your brand is important, and it should be a factor in your recruitment process.  Using a recruitment partner who understands the importance of brand and also has the capabilities to reach candidates, you may not otherwise have access to, is an important factor in finding a physician who fits your need.

Jackson Physician Search can manage your branded search campaign while providing you with access to proprietary digital tools, national exposure, and an experienced team of recruitment professionals.  Contact us today to learn more about how we can put your brand to work for you.

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How to Solve the Impending Physician Shortage

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While we continue to see news stories that illustrate the impending physician shortage that is impacting communities all over the United States, the thing we don’t hear enough about is what can be done about it.  The main reason for the lack of information about ways to reverse the doctor shortage is because much of it relies on federal intervention.  To refresh your memory, in 1997 as part of a Balanced Budget Act, Congress enacted legislation to cap the number of residency training slots to be funded through Medicare.  Now, twenty-two years later, the limitations are effectively inhibiting the training of enough new physicians to keep up with the increased care demands of a growing population and an elderly population that is living longer.

A recent comprehensive study presented key findings to include, a projected physician shortage by the year 2032 of up to 121,900, and population growth of 10% with those over age 65 increasing by 48%.  The report did identify that there would be a continuation in the growth of physician assistants and advanced practice RNs.  Good news on the surface, but the report found that emerging health care delivery trends in addition to the increased use of advanced practice providers would only contribute to a physician demand reduction of about 1% overall.  Considering all of these factors, let’s look at what can be done to solve the physician shortage.

  1. Enact legislation to reverse the residency training limits.

There are currently two bills that were introduced in the House of Representatives and one bill introduced in the Senate that will increase the numbers of residency slots by up to 5,000 per year for the next five years.  While this should be welcome news that physician shortage relief is on the horizon, the current ultra-partisan state of our legislative branch means that like so many other pieces of legislation, no action is being taken on the bills.  All three of these legislative items are sitting in a preliminary status after having been introduced earlier this year. Concerned citizens can take action and contact their federally elected representatives and ask them to move on the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2019 (H.R. 1763, S. 348) and also the Opioid Workforce Act of 2019 (H.R. 3414).

  1. Continue to develop ways to improve physician utilization.

As previously mentioned, there is a growing utilization of advanced practice providers, such as physician assistants and other specialty practice providers, like certified anesthesiologist assistants and others.  Extending a physician’s reach through improved and increased utilization of technology solutions, like telemedicine, is another cost-effective way to improve access in underserved communities. One interesting advancement currently being used in France is a standalone telemedicine booth, called a Consult Station.  Inside, a patient is connected with a physician, via video, and has access to an array of diagnostic medical devices. Guided by the physician, the patient can perform a variety of health checks, including vital signs, blood oxygen levels, an electrocardiogram, and other tests.  These stations are in use throughout France and have improved access to medical care for many underserved rural communities.

  1. Embrace the utilization of new technologies.

Like France has done with the implementation of the Consult Station, the United States must take action to embrace and increase the efficiency of implementing new technologies.  From streamlining the training, licensing, and certification process for new innovations to increasing the utilization of computer-assisted medicine, artificial intelligence, and sensor technology.  As today’s healthcare consumers become more and more connected, they are increasingly active in monitoring their own care and are more open to accepting technologies as part of their healthcare experience. Technological innovations can supplement the increased utilization of advanced practice professionals and help bridge the gap in direct physician interventions.

There is no simple answer to the challenge of alleviating the physician shortage in the United States.  It is going to take a multi-faceted approach that includes participation and funding from both the private and public sector.  What can’t be overstated, however, is the fact that the trending pace of the shortage is far exceeding the pace of actions being taken to address the matter.  Until, a concerted effort is taken at the federal, state, and local level, access to care gaps will widen, and healthcare consumers will continue to bear the burden of the inaction.

 

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What To Consider When Choosing a Practice Setting

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When you were first dreaming about becoming a doctor, there is a good chance that most of the dream was just about helping and healing people without much thought to where it would occur.  Now that your dream has become a reality, you are probably amazed at how many options you have regarding a practice setting.  You have worked extremely hard to get where you are, so it is important to choose a practice setting that fits your personality and gives you the best opportunity to live out your dream.  Let’s look at several the things you should consider when choosing a practice setting.

Market Demographics

Many physicians who grew up in a small town or a rural community want to practice medicine in a rural setting.  Others who grew up in the city may just want to spend more time enjoying nature in wide-open spaces.  While there may not be a large variety of practice settings to choose from, many doctors favor the pace and lifestyle benefits that a rural community can provide.

Physicians who choose to practice in urban or more metropolitan areas will have many more practice options to choose from. In larger metro areas, doctors will experience more growth opportunities, higher patient volumes, and also have more access to support than those in rural communities.

Employment Model

Most recently, the trend for physicians is to leave their self-employed practice setting for a hospital or large system setting.  While some physicians are considering a return to private practice, the overall demand for practicing physicians is driving up the number of opportunities available in hospital settings and large private practice partnerships.

Many physicians prefer working in a hospital setting as a way to ensure a stable income with greater opportunities to earn bonuses and negotiate more favorable work hours. In a partnership setting, physicians are bridging the gap between being self-employed and the stability of a hospital setting. As a partner or at a minimum on a partnership track, physicians have a greater say in how the practice operates, fostering patient relationships, and contributing to the workplace culture.

Type of Organization

Much of your decision on the type of practice setting you want to work will be based on whether or not you want to work in a large or small setting. Obviously, if you want to be self-employed, you will be working in a smaller practice environment. If you choose to work in a large health system environment, you will have the luxury of having a stable flow of patients as well as access to a plethora of referring physicians.

If you are a specialist, you may want to practice in a single-specialty group that is independent or affiliated with a larger health system.  Others choose to practice in a larger group that has multiple specialties included within the organization.  This allows patients to have easier access to different specialists when necessary.

Working in a clinic setting may be the perfect choice for doctors who want to work in rural or underserved communities. Clinics typically offer a stable schedule with regular hours and even weekends off!  A downfall to working in a clinic environment is usually lower compensation and a lack of growth potential.

No one needs to tell you that a career as a physician is both rewarding and difficult.  The hard part of the equation is the main reason why it is so important for you to choose the right practice setting so you can achieve everything you dreamed of before becoming a doctor.  Finding a setting that affords you the opportunity to succeed and in an environment that fits your personal culture and values will lead to a long and personally healthy career.

Is it time for you to explore other opportunities and take your career to the next level?  Working with a Jackson Physician Search recruitment professional can be the jump start you need.  Contact our team of dedicated, industry experts today!

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Act Fast to Get the Most Out of Your Recruitment Partner

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While most health care systems have in-house recruitment departments, the shortage of available physicians and the difficulty in reaching passive candidates have administrators bolstering their recruitment efforts with the services of an outside recruitment partner.  Once a relationship is established with a trusted physician search firm, there are several things that can be done to support your in-house recruiting team while getting the most out of your recruitment partner.

Foster an environment of trust.  If you speak with the front-line recruiters from outside physician search firms, one of the first challenges they tend to mention is that the in-house recruitment team sometimes view them as a threat to their job. While this is as much human nature as anything, nothing could be farther from the truth. Administrators can ease any initial concerns by discussing the reasons why the search partner has been contracted. The external team is not there because someone wasn’t performing, but more as a response to the competitiveness of the hiring environment.  Portraying the search partner as an extension of the team, with the same goal of finding the best candidates for the organization, goes a long way to set the foundation for a successful relationship.

Clearly define roles to create success.  When you are contracting with a search partner, you can utilize their expertise at finding the right candidates while your in-house team focuses on other important components of a successful search. In most cases, the in-house recruitment team is already stretched pretty thin, and in addition to finding candidates, they are probably involved in many other aspects of the process.  Using a search partner can be the ideal way to ensure that your in-house team is “nailing” all of the aspects of a physician hire, including managing the interview process, planning and attending the site visit meetings, assisting with contract negotiations, reference checks, credentialing, and onboarding.

“My most successful client relationships are ones where the organization truly sees me as an extension of the team. It works well when they allow me to do the ‘heavy lifting’ on the back end or behind the scenes while the in-house staff focuses on the important front-end candidate management activities.” ~T. O., Director of Recruiting

Success comes with a sense of urgency.  One of the most important aspects of a successful physician search is having a process that is conducive to moving quickly.  It is extremely important to understand that most candidates are going to be choosing from multiple offers.  This is another area where your external partner can help you keep things moving.  The key is to ensure that before any search, all of the individuals who have a say in the hiring process are already on-board and recognize the urgency of the situation.  Things to include are ensuring that presented candidates are acted upon quickly, in most cases, the first contact should be within 24 to 48 hours.  Build momentum by quickly setting up interviews and prepare a winning site visit.  Another way to feed that momentum is by having the basics of a contract already laid out and approved by key decision-makers.  The most disappointing aspect of any physician search is missing out on the perfect candidate because of an avoidable bottleneck.

“I’ve had situations where there has been a 3-week gap in between contact and scheduling an interview. Needless to say, most of those candidates chose other opportunities.” ~H.F., Recruiter

Lean on your search partner’s expertise.  When you have established a great relationship with your search partner, it is important to know that they can be relied upon in a variety of ways. The successful relationship has abundant two-way communication and allows you to lean on the external recruiters to help you close the deal with your desired candidate. You can always rely on your recruitment partner to confirm availability for interviews, insights into planning the perfect site visit, and even act as a liaison through the negotiation process when appropriate.

“When we are engaged as an extension of the team and there is open communication and transparency, the relationship is seamless.  We can customize our own process to meet the needs of the client, making it a true collaboration where we all have the same goals.” ~C.C., Senior Director of Recruiting

If your organization is looking for an experienced, trusted partner to help your recruitment operations, contact the professionals at Jackson Physician Search today.

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How to Best Support Your In-house Recruitment Team

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Healthcare organization administrators are all too familiar with the challenges associated with filling a physician vacancy in today’s ultra-competitive hiring environment.  Each month a physician position remains vacant, a hospital can lose as much as $150,000 in revenue.  These staggering costs drive home the importance of having an organizational recruitment plan that is both efficient and effective.  Here are several ways administrators can ensure they are getting the most out of their in-house recruitment teams.

  1. Have A Medical Staff Development Plan – Treating each physician vacancy as a one-off occurrence is the surest path to ineffective recruitment. Instead, create a strategic recruitment plan that incorporates best practices, is aligned with your organization’s vision and values and facilitates finding doctors who will fit, succeed, and stay. Effective recruiting is as much about retention as it is filling vacancies.
  2. Track and Monitor Your Recruitment Process Data – One of the biggest mistakes a healthcare organization can make regarding their recruitment process is not measuring or worse, not acting on their recruitment metrics. Data is your friend, and when you benchmark your recruitment processes, you can create incremental improvement and remove inefficiencies that drive up costs and increase time to fill rates.
  3. Invest In Your Recruiters – Only 11% of physicians are actively looking for a new job, while 76% are casually interested in hearing about potential opportunities. Giving your recruiters the tools and training they need to connect with these passive candidates is the foundation of a successful recruitment strategy.  Encourage your recruiters to join the The Association for Advancing Physician and Provider Recruitment (AAPPR) by offering to pay their membership dues and annual education conference registration fees. Since digital recruiting has become the “go-to” method for connecting with physicians, the recruitment team needs to develop the skills and proficiency to effectively reach potential candidates.
  4. Engage an Industry Expert – If your recruitment process is not improving or your organization is struggling to find/hire quality candidates, it is time to bring in a fresh set of eyes. A trusted consultant who objectively assesses your recruitment practices and recommends areas of improvement can be the jump start your team needs to get back on track.  Working with a recruitment firm that employees former in-house recruiters means they already are familiar with the process and know about common pitfalls. Whether using the industry expert to simply identify gaps or to completely overhaul your recruitment process, having an outsider’s perspective is a valuable tool that should not be overlooked.
  5. Utilize a Recruitment Partner – During times of high volume recruitment or as part of an overall strategic recruitment plan, establishing a partnership with a successful physician recruitment firm can help you access a broader candidate pool. A reputable physician search firm also provides you with access to information, technology, and systems that you may not otherwise be able to access.  Another overlooked aspect of using a search partner is that they can free up your recruitment team to focus more on other important duties like onboarding, preparing site visits, and more.

Keys to a Successful Relationship With a Search Partner

Once the decision is reached to establish a relationship with an external physician search firm to help shore up your recruitment needs, there are a few keys to making it as successful as possible.

  • Engage your recruitment team. It is important to ensure that your in-house recruitment team knows that the external search partner is just that, a partner.  It is human nature for individuals to feel threatened if an outside entity is brought in as a resource. Clear and open communication will go a long way toward easing any initial challenges and creating essential buy-in from your in-house team.
  • Establish clearly defined roles and timelines. Your search partner is an extension of your recruitment team and will bring with them a wealth of industry knowledge and expertise. To capitalize on that, it is important for administrators to establish standards for when candidates are presented for a vacancy. Things like fast turnarounds on establishing contact and setting up interviews, to timely offers will ensure that the candidates that are presented are not lost to competing opportunities.
  • Maintain communication with your search partner. As important as it is to clearly communicate with your team about this new relationship, keeping the lines of communication open with your search partner is equally important. Establishing trust through open and honest dialog about things that are working or things that can be improved is key to any successful partnership.

If your organization is looking for an experienced partner to perform an objective assessment of your recruitment operations or you want to tap into a resource with decades of successful industry experience, visit our clinical recruitment assessment page.

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Quick Look: Physician Retention Tips

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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.

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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.

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[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.

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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.

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