Physician turnover rate increases as demand for primary care remains high

March 18, 2013

Medical groups reported an uptick in the rate of physician turnover in 2012, as the vast majority of groups who responded to a survey plan to hire more primary care physicians this year.

Medical groups reported an uptick in the rate of doctor turnover in 2012 as the vast majority of groups who responded to a survey plan to hire more primary care physicians (PCPs) this year.

The doctor turnover rate reached 6.8% last year, up from 6.5% the prior year and the highest on record since the American Medical Group Association (AMGA) began sponsoring the survey in 2005, according to a statement from the AMGA. Cejka Search also was involved with the survey.

The AMGA cited improvements in the housing market and stock prices as reasons behind the increased turnover. Physician turnover hit its lowest level in the survey's history, 5.9%, in 2009 as the United States was mired in the depths of recession.

PCPs may be poised to take advantage of increased turnover in the physician employment market, as more than three-fourths of the survey's respondents expect to hire PCPs within the next year, according to the statement.

Retirement is, of course, another big factor in physician turnover, with turnover standing at nearly 13% for doctors aged more than 64 years. Turnover in that age group is being felt more acutely at smaller group practices-those with fewer than 50 physicians-as such practices reported a turnover rate of 19% for older physicians last year.

For advanced practice clinicians, a category that includes physician assistants and nurse practitioners, turnover stood at 11.5% last year, essentially the same as the prior year.

The survey represents data from 80 respondents whose groups collectively employ 19,596 physicians, according to the AMGA.

Last year, a separate study found that PCPs tend to move to newer locations at a lower rate than specialists.

Yet another study last year found that quality of life is an increasingly important decision doctors consider when deciding about potential jobs. The top factor in physicians’ decision-making is the overall lifestyle of the area where a job is located, according to that study.

 

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