A major retention and recruitment issue that was previously a gender issuework-life balanceis now a generational issue.
Younger doctors of both genders are making the same demands that were once the domain of young mothers in medical practice, says Joseph Scopelliti, M.D., president of Guthrie Clinic, Sayre, Pa., and a designated speaker who is an expert in the annual Physician Retention Survey by the American Medical Group Association, based in Alexandria, Va., and Cejka Search, the St. Louis-based physician search firm.
Scopelliti says that the major difference between younger doctors and older ones, according to the survey, is workplace culture expectations that relate to work-life balance. Younger physicians want limited on-call hours and predictable schedules.
The big issueand everyone is struggling with itis the generational factor, Scopelliti says. Family priorities were among the top reasons for voluntary separation. Physicians cited relocation to be closer to family 32% of the time, incompatible work schedule 8% of the time and excessive call requirements 6% of the time.
The main thing that Ive taken away is that organizations like ours need to learn flexibility. That has not been a natural part of large-group practices, Scopelliti says. If youre going to be successful, you need to be flexible in how you organize work schedules.
The most frequently mentioned reason for voluntary separation from a job was poor cultural fit, mentioned by half of the physicians surveyed as one of their deciding factors.
Scopelliti says that poor fit is avoidable and frequently a result of weak communication during the hiring process.
More than half the time, the reason for leaving is poor cultural fit or compensation. Both of those are things thaton the front endcan be made clearer, Scopelliti says.
Groups can get better by really analyzing their own recruitment process and making sure they are explicit on the front end in what they are looking for, and what the expectations are, Scopelliti says.
Two choices in the survey that related to family prioritiesspouses job required relocation and relocated to be closer to familywere also mentioned by 50% of departing physicians when taken together.
But family factors and decisions about retirement are often personal and beyond the control of an employer, Scopelliti says.
According to the study, full-time males over age 55 and part-time females under age 39 are at greatest risk for leaving. The upside of the poor economy is that many older physicians are staying on part time, or delaying retirement entirely, according to the study.
One surprising result that has been clarified in this years survey is just which part-time male physicians are leaving their organizations. Scopelliti says that analysts of past survey results thought the part-time male segmenta study segment with the highest rate of departure when all age groups are aggregatedwas probably made up mostly of retirement-age physicians with a part-time work schedule. In fact, it has become clear that this segment actually represents many younger, hospital-based physicians.
The work hours and culture of hospital-based physicians allow them to easily move from employer to employer, unencumbered by a patient base or the concerns of private practice.
Theyre very mobile, Scopelliti says.
The trend toward fewer rural physicians also continues.
In the past, rural residents who became doctors returned to their communities, Scopelliti says. Now there is a smaller population in rural areas that can produce doctors, and those that do grow out of those communities show less tendency to move back after medical school.