Retaining physicians begins with a concerted effort to address retention issues within the organization on an ongoing basis, says Kevin Donovan, FACHE, FACMPE, vice president of physician and ambulatory services at Elliot Health System in Manchester, NH.
Groups that have formalized retention initiatives tend to have lower turnover rates than groups without them. Although any retention-targeted initiatives are a step in the right direction, Donovan recommends outlining a dedicated retention plan that involves senior leadership and is based on routine reporting, analysis, discussion, and accountability.
The plan should also address cultural-fit issues, which are frequently identified as the top cause of voluntary turnover, and establish a plan to identify at-risk physicians and intervene before turnover becomes a probability.
"The plan doesn't have to be a 20-page document, but it has to be a set of actions you agree to and actually implement," Donovan says.
Focus on the first three years
Physicians are at the highest risk of leaving during their first three years at a new practice. In fact, roughly 46% of newly hired recruits will "fail" within 18 months, Donovan says, adding that "communication is key" to keeping newly hired physicians content and engaged. Provide physicians with answers to the following questions upon hiring and throughout the first few months: