It’s no secret the market for physician and provider talent is more competitive than ever. Data from our 2022 benchmarking report shows physician shortages in many specialties are expected to continue climbing for the foreseeable future, making employee retention, burnout management, and well-being more important than ever. If not addressed, burnout and poor well-being of physicians, providers, and entire system staff has the potential to impact the quality of clinical operations and patient care.
To keep retention, mitigating burnout, and encouraging well-being top of mind for recruiters, HR staff, and leadership, we believe these three things are critical:
Implementing proactive versus reactive recruitment and retention strategies
Knowing their physicians and truly understanding what matters to them
Introducing new technologies in a way that complements physicians’ roles
When constantly putting out fires and working to solve employee deficits, it’s difficult to prioritize intentional and thoughtful retention, burnout, and well-being initiatives. That’s why we always recommend engraining retention practices into everyday operations. Tactics like regular touchpoints can help identify issues and potential stressors, such as a lack of support or nursing staff before they’re full-blown crises. It’s also important to take a proactive approach to change management and look to involve physicians and their feedback in the decision-making process whenever possible.
“Know Thy Physician”
Also critical to mitigating burnout and improving wellbeing and retention, is positioning physician and provider leaders at the forefront of retention activities. Just as physicians must personalize care to each patient, leadership and management need to personalize retention strategies to various teams, people and roles. Not every approach works for every physician or every healthcare system. Rather, empowering physician leaders to build a culture focused on connection will help leadership develop a deeper understanding of their teams wants, needs and concerns. This insight is critical in developing specific and individual strategies to ensure wellbeing, alleviate burnout and drive retention.
Bridging the Technology Gap
New technologies are essential to improving operations, efficiencies and even patient care, but AAPPR research also found new technologies and processes are a common cause of burnout, especially among older physicians and providers. In fact, our 2021 report on physician satisfaction and burnout found that over 33 percent of physicians cited burnout as the primary factor for early retirement, while 20 percent attributed an increasingly difficult technology and administrative workload as causes for early retirement.
The involvement of physicians in the roll out or development of new technologies and processes can help to ensure the technology works in a way that complements physicians and their roles, ultimately reducing day-to-day stress rather than introducing new stressors.
All of these things sound relatively simple in theory, but limited bandwidth amongst physician leaders can make it difficult to implement clinical-driven retention strategies. We recommend a few best practices to make this process a bit easier including allowing physicians to lead by example to promote the benefits of a physician-led recruitment program and providing physicians the tools and recourses they need to lead their own team programs. The most important thing leaders can do to support retention efforts is “know thy physician”. As recruitment professionals, we have a critical role in serving as the liaison between physician and leadership and can help nurture these important relationships and promote retention strategies.
Overall, proactively involving physician leadership in retention activities has the power to improve retention rates in clinical support staff. By giving physician leaders the resources needed to develop and engage with their team members, these leaders are empowered to meet with teams outside of the work environment and improve retention rates by understanding team concerns and challenges, as well as soliciting feedback on their own individual management styles. More than anything, an organizational commitment to the principle of “no decisions about me without me” may bey the key to avoiding administrative decision-making that doesn’t adequately account for physician needs.
Have you implemented any physician-led retention efforts at your organization? Share with us on social!