First Four Years Crucial for Physician Retention

Laura Joszt

Once a physician has stayed with a practice for five years, the likelihood of leaving drops off; but turnover rates for those first four years can be high.

Once a physician has stayed with a practice for five years, the likelihood of leaving drops off; but turnover rates for those first four years can be high, according to the 2011 Physician Retention Survey by Cejka Search and the American Medical Group Association.

According to the results of the survey, there will be more pressure for advanced practitioners to fill gaps in patient care in the coming years. In addition to the projected physician shortage there is a 12.6% turnover rate for nurses and PAs.

"Recruiting and retaining physicians and advanced practitioners is more critical now than ever," Lori Schutte, president, Cejka Search, said in a statement. "In the previous year's survey, the majority of groups told us that the medical home model will deliver a competitive advantage in recruiting primary care physicians and advanced practitioners. But finding, hiring and keeping them is a growing challenge. Medical groups need to be prepared to hire the candidates that are the best fit for their organization."

Sixty-seven percent of respondents said that the involvement of advanced practitioners grew “somewhat” or “significantly” over the last five years. And 75% gave the same answers when looking forward over the next five years.

Respondents also added that in the past year, there was 21% growth in jobs for PAs and 13% growth for nurses.

Three-quarters of respondents said they would hire more or significantly more primary care physicians in the next year compared to the last year. No groups responded that they were looking to reduce their primary care staffing. This response indicates that hiring is a priority.

According to Donald W. Fisher, Ph.D., CAE, AMGA president and chief executive officer, organizations are looking at different qualities in physicians and advanced practitioners to match the changing health care environment.

"Collaboration and teamwork are significantly more important to medical groups and health systems because care models and performance measures require it,” he said in a statement. “The ability to work effectively as a member of an accountable care team becomes a valued skill for physicians and advanced practitioners who increasingly will partner with colleagues in primary care, hospital medicine, a wide range of specialties and subspecialties and allied health."

Turnover is higher in the first two years after a physician joins a practice at 14%. After that the turnover rate drops to 11% for the next two years and around 8% for the two years after that.