Thursday, July 16, 2015

A Method to Prevent Physician Turnover ... Hire for Culture Fit

Physician Turnover
Reducing Physician
When you abandon a sinking ship, you don’t generally interview the other passengers in each lifeboat to see if you’ll be able to fit in with the group. And as long as physicians feel that there’s no hope in their current practice settings (solo or small group), they will be tempted to jump at any employment opportunity that seems to offer them some sense of security.

“Survival” decisions are very different from long-range commitments. Doctors focusing on escaping their current situations are likely going to discount “cultural fit” when evaluating employment offers from larger practices and health systems. That’s a huge mistake. We all know it’s important. A physician who operates under a very different value system than the organization that employs him or her will not stay long—and will spend a good amount of time looking elsewhere for employment.

Some pundits estimate that the next few years we will see the biggest exodus from private practice in history. That means a lot of doctors looking for, evaluating, and accepting employment offers. We expect things will move at a relatively rapid pace and that some markets will be seriously shaken up.

But regardless of how these dynamics unfold for you or your organization, don’t let desperation cloud your judgment. Recruiting organizations feel pressure to fill vacancies or to capture the best available doctors on the block. Candidates feel pressure to find a job. In the short run, you may keep the bills paid or cling tentatively to your market share; but in the long run, employers and employees will be on the hunt sooner rather than later.

The huge wave of practice mergers and acquisitions washing through the healthcare marketplace has many physicians looking for new jobs—some joining group practices for the first time in their careers. Diverse expectations about accountability, autonomy, and more put many newly employed physicians on a track for disappointment and threaten the group’s ability to retain doctors.

Reducing turnover requires hiring the right physicians in the first place. To accomplish that, there are three important steps that are critical for hiring the right ones:

Defining your unique organizational culture. Identify your core values, vision, and mission, and determine how they affect day-to-day life in the practice.

Screening candidates for cultural fit. Communicate these values clearly to recruits, and ask questions that elicit each candidate’s personal values for comparison.

An onboarding process for new recruits. Provide thorough orientation for new hires. Create a deliberate mentoring program that pairs new recruits with veteran group members.

Various studies estimate the costs associated with an established physician’s departure at nearly a million dollars for some specialties. A prolonged medical staff vacancy costs can approach $100,000 per month.

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