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3 in 4 Physicians Could be Contemplating a Career Change

By Debra Shute  
   May 19, 2016

Healthcare executives share insights on how to keep doctors satisfied with their jobs amid shifting practice preferences and reimbursement realities.

Finding good physicians is hard. Keeping them is Herculean.

Most physicians routinely hear from suitors about potential practice opportunities, and about 30% report receiving three to five solicitations per week, according to a survey from the Medicus Firm, a physician recruiting agency.

"I'm surprised it's not more," says Brett Waress, MHA, FACMPE, regional director for Health First Medical Group, a four-hospital, 300+ physician system headquartered in Melbourne, FL.

"Particularly for certain specialties, the recruiting firms are aggressive. For example, our hospitalists, and I'd say hospitalists across the country, receive at least a call a day, let alone the email solicitations."

So how tempted are physicians to respond?

According to the Medicus survey of 2,413 clinicians representing 21 specialties across the United States, 27.5% of respondents say they're definitely not making a career change within the next year, while only 7.6% are set on a switch.

If you count the majority of physicians falling between both extremes, however, that leaves a total of 72.5% docs who may not be looking for a different job, but who could be curious about a new opportunity, says Bob Collins, a managing partner and co-founder of The Medicus Firm.

That slice of physicians who claim they're staying put is shrinking fast, from 43% in 2014 to 34% last year to 27% in April 2016, Medicus research shows.

"For health leaders, that's a big deal because it's not just [about] recruiting physicians," Collins says.

"Now there should be as much emphasis on retaining them because the physician population has become more mobile than ever before. They're more willing to make a change if you don't meet their needs."

Get Creative About Quality of Life

The top factors that could drive physicians to change jobs are not unexpected:

  • Schedule/call coverage/work hours—a top motivator for 30.2% of physicians in training and 15.8% of physicians in practice
  • Financial rewards— a top motivator for 22.2% physicians in training and 29% in practice
  • Geographic location— a top motivator for 22.8% in training and 12.8% in practice

Debra Shute is the Senior Physicians Editor for HealthLeaders Media.

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