Physician turnover rate on the rise
As the economy perks up, it appears that physician turnover rates rise with it.
For the first time since 2008, physician turnover has increased, reminding medical groups of the delicate balance between physician supply and demand. According to the 6th annual Physician Retention Survey from Cejka Search and the American Medical Group Association, in 2010 total turnover was 6.1 percent, compared to 5.9 percent in 2009, and appears to track with reports of modest improvement in the U.S. economy.
The survey was distributed to 383 medical organizations with AMGA medical group membership, of which 62 organizations (representing 17,624 physicians) responded.
Officials say the increase is consistent with anecdotal reports and findings in the 2008 survey that the worsening economy and plummeting home sales caused physicians to delay retirement and relocation – key drivers of recruitment and activity.
Growth in the Gross Domestic Product and the leveling out of previous steep declines in home sales may partially explain the uptick in turnover in 2010.
Looking ahead, the majority of respondents in the 2010 survey said they believe physician retirement will increase (27 percent) or continue at the current rate (65 percent). This could alert medical groups to prepare for greater turnover in 2011 as improvements in the marketplace make it more conducive for physicians to retire or relocate.
[See related story: New factors affect physician recruitment, retention]
"Although shortages still persist in today's physician workforce, we have seen exponential growth in the size of medical groups, many of which are taking the lead in developing new care models that will increase patient access and keep physician satisfaction and retention high," said Donald W. Fisher, the AMGA's president and chief executive officer. "Medical groups are actively addressing the needs of physicians throughout their careers, providing mentoring and leadership opportunities and flexible work options."
"Medical groups can prepare for increased turnover by identifying key demographics in which turnover rates are the highest and find ways to address the cause of turnover at its source," said Lori Schutte, president of Cejka Search. "In the past five years, we have seen turnover rates consistently trending higher for young, full-time female physicians and pre-retirement male physicians. Offering flexible work options can be effective in retaining a strong physician workforce and investing in the retention of physicians at all stages of their careers will pay long-term dividends for medical groups."