The U.S. is facing a demographic crisis: elderly Americans are the fastest growing segment of the population, growing 58% in just the last 20 years, while adults under the age of 65 grew by only 20%. That growth has led to ballooning healthcare costs as demand increases while the number of working adults paying into Medicare decreases. To make matters worse, another 100,000 doctors are needed to adequately treat these patients, a roughly 10% shortfall.
The looming crisis can be prevented if careful measures are taken to maximize physician recruitment and retainment. This article will describe several courses of action that the healthcare industry can take to minimize the physician shortfall.
Health Practitioner Shortage
Today’s physician shortage can be traced back to the federal government’s cap on residency positions for newly graduated medical students. The number of slots has only increased 1% per year over the past two decades. With the cap, even if more students were accepted to medical schools, they would be unable to continue their training and would not become full-fledged physicians.
However, this is not the only complication contributing to the shortfall. Healthcare professionals are aging alongside the general population, and many older doctors are choosing to leave the field. Physician burnout can be traced to impossibly high patient loads, onerous insurance regulations, and a lack of respect from both their patients and employers. Younger doctors are struggling with student loans, and while physicians as a whole have a relatively high income, doctors that are just starting out are paid much less and have trouble making payments on their loans. Recruiting and retaining quality physicians is crucial for minimizing this healthcare shortfall.
The Physician Recruitment Process
Having a solid recruitment plan is critical to attracting top talent, especially in this highly-competitive job market. The recruitment process is also quite costly, usually taking several months, so you’ll want to narrow the search to applicants that are most likely to take the job.
Demonstrate the Value of Your Community
Candidates will be looking at dozens of possible placements, and you need to make your health care organization stand out — show where your community shines. Is it a hub for outdoor recreation? Are the schools nationally ranked? Is it an easy place to get to know your neighbors? Most physicians come from training programs in large metropolitan areas and will have no idea what to expect from the smaller towns that are trying to recruit them.
Doctors are more likely to remain in their position if they have a connection with the community. One of the best ways to ensure a candidate is in it for the long haul is to recruit those that have lived or studied in the area. Those without a connection to the community are more likely to move on once they’ve gathered enough experience/income to start looking for a better job somewhere else.
Open the Position To International Candidates
There’s a vast, untapped market of highly-qualified international physicians that can be recruited with a little bit of extra paperwork. Medical school graduates willing to work in rural areas can have their J-1 visa requirements waived. Those who complete their residency in the U.S. must usually return to their home country for two years before applying for an H-1B visa and seeking employment in the U.S.
How To Retain Physicians
Recruitment is only the first step in eliminating the physician shortfall; the second is retaining the doctors you already have. With a diminishing labor pool, hospitals and clinics should create retention plans so they can ensure their doctors are happy with their job and will continue working in a position for years to come.
Foster a Culture of Respect
Respect, whether from your colleagues, supervisor, or clients, is critical for any job. Employees that don’t feel valued aren’t likely to stick around very long. Employers must create a culture by supporting their employees and remaining open to critical feedback.
Reward Quality Work
Paying physicians to keep patients healthy is something that’s been tossed around for decades but has never really caught on in the American healthcare system. However, many hospitals are now considering bonuses for high-performing doctors. While this has some ethical issues related to doctors only accepting healthier patients, when implemented correctly, can lead to better care.
Maintain Work/Life Balance
One of the top complaints among both newly-employed and veteran physicians is that they’re stretched too thin. Older doctors are exiting the field and can’t be replaced fast enough, leaving the remaining physicians to cover their patients. One in four doctors say they’re working 60-80 hours every week. To retain quality healthcare professionals, employers need to ensure they get adequate time off. That means more vacation days and more flexibility about when they can take them.
Give Doctors a Stake in the Practice
For the first time in history, more doctors are employed by hospitals than own their own practice. That change has led to a subtle shift in how physicians and patients see the field, with both viewing it as a more “corporate” entity. In turn, physician satisfaction has decreased as they no longer feel a stake in a business that they are so critical to. Offering partnerships to physicians is an excellent way to align the employee’s goals with those of their employer, exposing the physicians to both the successes and failures of the business.
Using On Time Talent Solutions To Hire a Physician
Hiring a new physician is a complex and incredibly expensive process. On average, it takes three to seven months to fill an opening for a physician and costs $250,000. Fortunately, On Time Talent Solutions has over 20 years of experience in the healthcare recruiting industry and extensive connections to hospitals and clinics around the country.
With On Time Talent Solutions, employers get access to hundreds of prospective candidates through the talent database, each with a video resume. Whether you’re looking to fill a long-term physician role or a temp in billing, On Time Talent Solutions can find you the right candidate for the job.