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Analysis

4 Key Factors to Keep Clinicians Engaged

By Steven Porter  
   January 16, 2020

Physicians and clinicians want a sense of purpose, accomplishment, and both collaboration and autonomy.

When it comes to recruiting and keeping physicians and clinicians, health systems are largely fighting for the same limited resources, said Scott W. Rathgaber, MD, the CEO of Gundersen Health System in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

To keep medical staff from leaving for another potential employer, Rathgaber recommends focusing on engagement with a four-point framework. He shared his thoughts on the matter with fellow senior strategy leaders at a recent HealthLeaders CEO Exchange gathering.

Here are the four factors Rathgaber sees as key to Gundersen's recruitment and retention efforts:

1. Purpose

Gundersen has sought to define a sense of purpose to which employees can contribute, Rathgaber said.

"I would argue that, not my generation, but the millennial generation, really resonates with that," he said. "They want to make a difference. And that's not to say that baby boomers didn't want to make a difference, but I think [the sentiment is] a lot stronger with millennials, and that connection is great."

2. Teamwork

A lot of people, especially members of younger generations, are driven by a sense of teamwork, too, which is counterintuitive for some established physicians, Rathgaber said.

"I wasn't trained in that," he said. "It was more the cowboy rather than the pit crew, but we're so complex now that we really have to work together in order to provide the best care. A lot of people appreciate that teamwork."

3. Mastery

Gundersen also strives to have clinicians work at the top of their licenses, Rathgaber said.

"If you're going to do something, we want to make sure we support you so you can be the absolute best you can possibly be and you go home saying, 'I did a great job today. I can really do the job you hired me to do,' " Rathgaber said.

4. Autonomy

This idea of promoting autonomy works only when teams are aligned with the organizational mission, Rathgaber said. He likes to compare the leadership team's broad vision to the Mississippi River, which is wide but has banks.

"As long as you're going in the right direction and you stay within our aligned boundaries, we're going to be good," he said.

When you can connect employees with a sense of purpose, teamwork, mastery, and autonomy, you are more likely to get an engaged and motivated workforce committed to the organization's success, Rathgaber said.

The HealthLeaders CEO Exchange annually gathers leading hospital and health system CEOs for a custom dialogue on the critical issues facing the future of their organizations. For more information on this and future events, please email exchange@healthleadersmedia.com.

“As long as you're going in the right direction and you stay within our aligned boundaries, we're going to be good.”

Steven Porter is an associate content manager and Strategy editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.

Photo credit: Pictured is Scott W. Rathgaber, MD, CEO of Gundersen Health System in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Photo by David Hartig.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

Gundersen has sought to define a sense of purpose to which employees can contribute.

When you can connect employees with a sense of purpose, teamwork, mastery, and autonomy, you are more likely to get an engaged and motivated workforce.

A lot of physicians are driven by a sense of teamwork, which is counterintuitive for some established physicians.


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