Recruiting and retaining young physicians

March 14, 2019

Young physicians want good compensation. But money’s not all they’re looking for.

With the physician shortage remaining a major concern for healthcare providers, a 2018 study from medical employment firm CompHealth identified ways young physicians find their first positions, what they want in a job, and why they leave.

Not surprisingly, the survey found that young physicians want good compensation. But money’s not all they’re looking for. Lisa Grabl, president of Midvale, Utah-based CompHealth, says facilities should be aware that young physicians also want to work in a place that has a great culture and offers a good work/life balance.

“If you’re not strong in these areas, look for ways to improve, or you’re going to lose out on attracting the best talent,” Grabl says.

For many years, physicians were willing to work long hours and make their career the center of their lives. Younger physicians still care about their patients and career, but they also want to have time for family, friends and interests outside of medicine, which is why many healthcare facilities have adjusted their recruiting tactics to show how they can meet all of their physicians’ needs-not just their workplace requirements.

Jennifer Moody, an associate principal at ECG Management Consultants, a Dallas, Texas-based medical staffing company, says physicians in their first job are looking to build upon the clinical expertise they’ve been developing in
residency/fellowship.

“It is important to many that they find a practice opportunity that allows them an interesting case mix,” she says.

Also important, she notes, are opportunities for improved financial stability-such as loan forgiveness, net income guarantees or a signing bonus, because new physicians frequently have a great deal of educational debt.

Chris Borasz, manager of physician and provider recruitment for OhioHealth in Columbus, Ohio, says when recruiting, it’s important to think about the entire family, not just the physician, and consider what in the community can support the spouse or partner.

“It’s finding things that are helping to engage that person in connectivity to community,” Borasz says. “The development and support as they ramp up is important, but also think about that long-term development.”

Finding work 

According to the CompHealth study, 40 percent of placements are a result of referrals and networking. Only 12 percent of young doctors use social media to find work, despite spending between five and 19 hours a week online for personal reasons.

Moody says that millennials  often will use social media to look for practice opportunities, confer with peers about salary norms or contract requirements on socialmedia-based message boards, and research potential job locations on the internet. Therefore, if practices are only advertising in specialty journals or hoping to network at society meetings, they will miss out on many candidates.

The key to retention

The survey found that physicians are generally quite satisfied in their jobs but are also willing to change employers if they can find a better fit. The key to retention, Grabl notes, is listening to physicians to ensure their needs are being met.

She suggests holding interviews after the physician has been recruited-at intervals of three months, six months and a year-where they can monitor how the physician and his or her family are integrating into the practice and community. This would involve simply talking to the doctor and his or her family about what they like, what they feel is missing in their lives, and recommending solutions to fix any problems and concerns.

Grabl says this is important because young physicians today want more than just a good working opportunity.

“They are still willing to work, and work hard, but they also want more in their lives,” she says. “That could be implementing more flexible schedules, reducing on-call requirements or bringing in locum tenens physicians to allow for vacation time or help with patient load.”

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