Physician turnover rate hits all-time high

Medical groups reported an average turnover rate of 6.8 percent in 2012, according to the annual Physician Retention Survey from Cejka Search and the American Medical Group Association (AMGA), who released their findings March 18.

The 2012 physician turnover rate rose from 6.5 percent in 2011. It was significantly higher than the lowest rate of 5.9 percent reported in 2009 at the depth of the recession, according to researchers, and exceeded 6.4 percent reported in 2005, the first year data was collected.

[See also: PwC report shows hospitals saw increased employee turnover]

Survey respondents also reported turnover of 11.5 percent among advanced practice clinicians (APCs), which includes physician assistants and nurse practitioners. This was essentially unchanged from 2011, the first year APC data was collected.

The Cejka Search and AMGA 2012 Physician Retention Survey was distributed electronically via e-mail to 2,174 medical organizations, representing both AMGA medical group members and non-members. Researchers collected survey data from October 2012 through January 2013, and attained a 3.6 percent survey response rate. Eighty respondents, who collectively employed 19,596 physicians, reported the 2012 physician turnover data. A subset of 72 groups, who collectively employed 4,213 advanced practice clinicians, reported the APC data.

This increased turnover tracks with improvements in the housing market and recovery in stock prices and marks a shift from physicians delaying relocation and retirement due to depressed home and investment portfolio values, researchers reported.

Medical groups do not expect relief in turnover in the coming year, the researchers commented. The report indicates that competition to hire and retain top performing physicians will intensify as retirement accelerates among an aging physician workforce and health reform increases the demand for primary care.

[See also: Managing doctor, nurse practitioner turnover rates key to collaborative care ]

“The survey findings provide evidence that recruitment and retention continue to be major challenges for health systems,” stated Donald W. Fisher, PhD, president and CEO of AMGA, in a prepared statement. “To rise to these challenges, medical groups are demonstrating remarkable leadership by investing in new staffing and delivery models, building and nurturing their teams in a strategic way, and making accountable care work for their patients and their communities.”

“The implementation of healthcare reform and changing demographics make efficient recruitment and effective retention paramount for medical groups,” stated Lori Schutte, president of Cejka Search, in a prepared statement. “Delivering data and insight points the way toward best practices and drives our industry toward innovative solutions.”

Other key findings from the report:

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