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Retaining Physicians in a Post-Loyalty World

Lena J. Weiner, for HealthLeaders Media, May 19, 2014

Compensation is not a physician's only consideration when contemplating a new job, and it shouldn't be a hospital's only draw. Physician retention starts with healthcare executives making strong hiring decisions.

The physician shortage is driving up the value compensation packages and simultaneously making physician retention more challenging.

According to the Medical Group Management Association's Physician Placement Starting Salary Survey, released last month, first-year physicians are enjoying, signing bonuses, paid relocation fees and other perks such as student loan forgiveness as part of their compensation.

"It clearly is getting more and more competitive due to the shortage of physicians", says Kenneth Hertz, healthcare consultant with the MGMA. "The median [first year guaranteed starting salary] is $260,000, but there are salaries that we've seen that are considerably higher. I've personally seen them at $450,000 or $500,000."

Hertz also says he's seen starting bonuses in the $50,000 to $75,000 range, but that it wouldn't surprise him a bit to see a bonus topping $100,000. "Everybody is looking for a signing bonus when they come on," agrees Craig Talega, vice president of physicians' services at Divine Savior Hospital in Portage, WI.

Job hopping is hitting healthcare hard. "The average tenure for a new physician, just out of residency, is one and a half to two years," laments Talega, who has been with Divine Savior Hospital for 21 years. Experienced physician who want to find a new job, likely won't have to look far.

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