Nearly 20% of doctors plan to make a career change within 12 months (per a survey by The Medicus Firm). Data confirms about eight percent are “definitely” leaving and another ten percent are “most likely” making a career change. But WHY are physicians changing jobs?
For starters, there’s an epidemic in America: physicians are stressed out and burned out. The most common cause of burnout can be attributed to bureaucratic responsibilities charting and paperwork, while hours, lack of respect from colleagues, increasing electronic utilization (such as EHRs/EMR's) and feeling underpaid are also big contributors.
What’s more, as many as 70% of physicians across all specialties change jobs within their first two years (per Today’s Hospitalist). While 50% of physicians do stay in the area they trained, it’s logical that some will be tempted by new opportunities away from their first job
It's important for physician recruiters to understand WHY candidates are changing jobs. Here are the top four reasons.
1. They want to make more money. The need for better compensation tops the list of reasons why physicians leave their jobs. That’s why it’s important for physicians and recruiters to have an accurate view of how (and how much) physicians are paid. We summarized the takeaways of Doximity’s 2019 Physician Compensation report here, and we encourage you to download and read the full report.
2. They’re exhausted and overwhelmed. One of the top motivators driving physicians to change jobs is their (over) scheduled work hours and on-call time. Ask almost any doctor and they’ll also tell you the biggest problem they face is spending too little time with patients. They want to spend more quality time with their friends and family – and more quality time caring for patients.
3. They want to live in a new geographic area. Doctors may even want to work in a better climate. Physicians tend to prefer practices in major metropolitan or suburban areas (the southeast region of the US remains the most desired region to work). In fact, the National Institute of Health reports that about 1 of every 5 U.S. citizens live in rural locations – while only 1 of every 10 American physicians reside in rural areas. The good news if you’re recruiting for rural positions is that doctors are more willing to make a change if their current position isn’t meeting their needs.
4. They want to advance their career and don’t see it happening where they are. This could mean the culture of their workplace is unhealthy. It could mean they want less (or more) administrative duties, a new practice partner, or to leave independent practice altogether – after all, it’s getting harder and harder for independent practices to go at it alone, so employment at a hospital or within a healthcare group (with more financial security and less risk) is appealing. The next generation of physicians doesn’t want to work in a private practice either: 70% prefer an employed setting and four out of five residents will start their medical career working for a hospital (per Merritt Hawkins).
The good news for physicians – and physician recruiters – is it’s a great time to work in healthcare. Being a physician ranks #8 overall of the Best Jobs in the U.S. (per U.S News & World Report) and the unemployment rate for physicians is also a mere 0.5 percent (per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). When it comes to changing jobs though, doctors can be their own worst enemy. As Maiysha Claiborne, MD, points out in this terrific OpMed article, doctors often fail to identify what the real problem is with their current position or the vision of what they want in an ideal job (or life for that matter). They also often fail to get the right mentorship and guidance.
The best advice for physician recruiters working with these candidates is to get to the heart of the matter: why does he or she want to change jobs? Help them identify what the current problems are – and what they (and their families) really want in the future – and you’re bound to find physicians that stick.
For more insights into what physicians are looking for in a career, check our our recent Physician Career Preferences Survey findings.