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Strategies for Retaining Your Providers

No one wants to lose a great doctor. It’s not easy to find a new physician with both the necessary clinical skills and the right personality to be a good fit for the facility. It takes time to source, interview, and onboard new physicians. It also costs money in terms of lost productivity and revenue.

There are currently more open jobs than physicians to fill them, and doctors can afford to be picky about where they work and for how long.

Here are a few things that employers can do to ensure they’re hiring the right physicians and that they stick around.

Hire for culture. To hire for culture, you need to understand who you are as an organization, such as your values, beliefs, expectations, etc., and then find physicians who share those standards. If your facility puts a premium on good bedside manner, strong communication with staff and patients, and emotional intelligence, you’ll need to make sure you can identify those characteristics in candidates during the interview process.

Involve decision makers. Accepting a new position is a big decision for any physician. Make sure the physician’s family, or other key decision makers, is involved. During the recruiting process, get to know what he wants in the job and what he’s looking for outside of work. Help him understand how his family would fit into the community. Whenever possible, provide relocation help, from finding a new home to choosing the best school in the area.

Onboarding. The goal of onboarding is to demonstrate a long-term commitment to the new provider while helping her become part of the team and validating the promises you made in the interview. At the very least, an onboarding plan should include introductions to key peers and staff, a tour of the facility, a welcome packet with information about policies and procedures, and regular follow up with leaders. Unfortunately, our data shows that less than half of facilities currently provide this type of orientation.

Improve engagement. Engagement is more than a corporate buzzword. According to Gallup, organizations who have engaged workers are 18 percent more productive and 16 percent more profitable than those who haven’t. In fact, disengaged workers cost the American economy $350 billion each year in lost productivity.

When it comes to engagement, there are satisfiers and motivators. Satisfiers are simply the base requirements needed for someone to accept or stay in a job. These include factors such as salary, work conditions, security, etc. Motivators are things that actually get people engaged in their job and excited about their work. Top motivators include achievement, recognition, advancement, and relationship with peers and staff. To create an engaged workforce, leaders need to meet regularly with physicians to understand what motivates them personally and put a plan in place to achieve those goals.

Appreciate your people. Satisfied, engaged, and happy employees are those who feel like they’re making a difference and who feel appreciated for the difference they make. Look for ways to recognize your people in the way they like most. Some employees prefer private recognition vs. public. Some want their name on a plaque, others want an extra day off or bonus pay. Most physicians feel appreciated when they’re given a greater voice in the organization. Asking physicians to serve on steering committees or offering formal or informal leadership opportunities are great ways to reward exceptional work.

Don’t forget to celebrate. Just because you can’t shut down a department for a team party in the middle of the day doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Look for ways to engage with your team outside of work and try to include physicians’ families where possible. Relaxed get-togethers help team members connect with each other on a more personal level, which also strengthens relationships in the workplace.

Creating an engaged team won’t happen overnight. Like any successful initiative, it requires a plan and long-term commitment. But if an engagement plan helps you keep your best doctors happy and motivated, it’s definitely worth it.


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