6 Ways to Reduce Physician Turnover

Karen Minich-Pourshadi, for HealthLeaders Media , December 12, 2011

"That was unacceptable. We did a cost of turnover analysis and we were losing a lot of money," he says. The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates organizations lose $115,000 when a general practitioner leaves and $200,000 for a specialist. However, Larson adds, "If you calculate the patients that leave when a physician does and other hard and soft costs, it can be as much as a $1.2 million loss to the organization for one provider."

For Baystate, "the future success of the organization meant we needed to make a paradigm shift in how we approached retention," he says.

First, Baystate pulled together physician leaders and practice managers at a retreat. The 20 attendees became the organization's retention task force. The group created six processes and guidelines for recruiting and retaining physicians. A major emphasis of these strategies was to  make providers feel valued and recognized.

  1. Hire for cultural fit—Behavioral-event questions, which ask interviewees how they dealt with difficult situations, were added to the interview process to gauge how a candidate's personality and attitudes would fit within the department and organization.
  2. Optimize on-boarding practices—The task force developed a pre-hire to post-hire checklist to ensure that new employees were guided through the first few months at the organization. Check-in and introduction meetings were made mandatory for managers.
  3. Establish a buddy program—Rather than use a senior member of the team as a mentor, the task force decided that a buddy fit the culture of the organization better. This could be any member of the physician staff.
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