By Ariella Gottlieb, Vice President – Physician Services

With turnover on the rise among doctors, provider staffing is the primary concern for many healthcare organizations. And it’s no wonder why: understaffed departments lead to excess spending and impact the community’s access to adequate patient care.

When recruiting just one provider, estimates show it can cost as much as $1 million. Primary care turnover is at almost $1 billion in annual excess healthcare spending. And it’s more than just money. It’s canceled appointments, delayed surgeries, less time spent with patients, gaps in care, and the effect on patient loyalty.

So, how can your healthcare system best attract and keep top medical providers? Here are three strategies you can use:

Ensure employer branding is authentic
It all starts with honesty. To attract new talent with staying power, healthcare systems must humanize their employer branding and be transparent about what it’s like working there.

Craft an employer value proposition that speaks to why they chose to become a doctor – for many, that’s because they want to help people. To send a clear message that each provider’s voice matters from the beginning, conduct more personalized interviews – ask questions like what keeps them motivated, how long they like to spend with patients, how they achieve a work-life balance.

If your workplace is committed to racial and social equity, demonstrate that and be open about the inclusion program’s status. Few health systems have developed a clear pathway for health equity, but being involved in the early stages could be a powerful attraction strategy because many providers want to be engaged in grassroots efforts.

Focus on work-life balance & well-being
Physician burnout continues to rise, partly due to pandemic-related challenges. Your organization plays a key role in keeping doctors healthy, which directly impacts patient health. Providing a true work-life balance and prioritizing physician well-being is essential. Think holistically because there are five major types of well-being: emotional, physical, social, workplace and societal.

Empower physicians to care for their mental health and give them the resources to do it. Encouraging them to use apps like Heroes Health, Headspace, and MindShift CBT is a start. Offer part-time work options so providers can take time for themselves. Introduce “wellness days” that aren’t part of traditional vacation or personal time, giving clinical professionals the grace to take days off when they need them. For more ideas to incorporate into your recruiting strategy, there are lots of great resources offered by the The American Medical Association.

Offer competitive compensation packages
Clinical talent is in such high demand that many medical groups are raising wages. Though not everyone’s equally rewarded – pay discrepancies exist between permanent and contingent workers, increasing attrition and lowering morale. Then there’s the incentive pay to encourage doctors to pick up extra shifts, which can lead to fatigue.

But remember: compensation is more than just annual salary, bonuses, continuing education, and paid time off. It should include benefits that encompass financial security, work-life balance, and a safe environment. The good news is that compensation packages are in your organization’s control so you can create comprehensive plans that meet provider expectations.

Healthcare systems must address physician shortages, so patients and providers can lead better lives. Developing new benefit and compensation plans, having a genuine brand, and promoting self-care will allow your healthcare organization to attract and retain the best medical talent for your community.


Ariella Gottlieb

Connect with Ariella on LinkedIn.


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