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Research highlights early-career physician recruitment and retention challenges


Physicians are often leaving after two years on the job because of issues with ownership

Physicians are only staying in their first job for two years, on average: ©Nadial - stock.adobe.com

Physicians are only staying in their first job for two years, on average: ©Nadial - stock.adobe.com

Research from the Medical Group Management Association and Jackson Physician Search illustrates the challenges in the recruitment and retention of early-career physicians. The study reveals that physicians who completed their residency or fellowship in the past six years are spending an average of less than two years in their first jobs before moving on, a stark contrast to practicing physicians of all ages who typically spend an average of six years in their initial roles.

The study, "Early-Career Physician Recruiting Playbook," stems from insights collected through the 2023 Early-Career Physician Recruitment and Retention Survey conducted in August and September 2023. The survey involved physicians and administrators nationwide and aimed to understand the factors influencing residents and fellows in their job choices and how to develop better recruitment and retention strategies.

Key findings from the research include:

Physician Priorities and Motivators:

  • New physicians prioritize higher compensation (50%) when seeking their first job post-residency or fellowship.
  • However, the main reason for early-career physicians leaving their first job is practice ownership/governance models (35%), indicating a shift in priorities.

Recruitment and Retention Disconnect:

  • Administrators consider organizational reputation (51%) and practice ownership/governance models (38%) as the top factors for physicians joining their organizations. In contrast, physicians rank these factors significantly lower at 11% and 13%, respectively.

Tony Stajduhar, president of Jackson Physician Search, pointed out the financial ramifications for practices. "Considering the time required for new physicians to reach full productivity is between one and two years, medical groups face potential financial losses when physicians leave at or before the two-year mark," he said in a statement.

Halee Fischer-Wright, MD, president and CEO of MGMA, added, "To solve the ongoing staffing crisis, leaders must understand early-career physicians' present and evolving needs and meet them where they are in their career journey or risk losing them to a competitor."

The full report is available here.

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