Practice Notes

Physician employment is at an all-time high. Here are 3 tactics to stay competitive.

by Maria Restuccio and Rachel Woods

In 2018, physician employment overtook physician practice ownership for the first time. After decades of provider organizations acquiring practices and employing physicians, the American Medical Association's Policy Research Perspectives found 47.4% of practicing physicians were employed in 2018, while only 45.9% owned their own practice. And the big practices keep getting bigger—according to the survey, an increasing number of physicians are now employed by larger practices of 50 or more physicians.

Access our physician recruitment toolkit—and get resources to attract and onboard new physicians

Although 2018 was the first year physician employment surpassed practice ownership, the trend will almost certainly continue. That's because younger physicians increasingly prefer employment to practice ownership: According to the 2019 Merritt Hawkins survey of final year medical residents, employment is by far the most desired practice option for medical residents. Of surveyed residents, 91% said they would prefer employment by a hospital, medical group, or other facility than to be in private practice.

With so many provider organizations attempting to recruit new physicians, competition for these residents remains fierce. Two-thirds of residents reported receiving more than 50 recruiting offers, and 45% reported receiving 100 or more. Given the growth in employment and practice preferences of new physicians, many health system employed groups are struggling to adapt to a tightened physician market and stand out amid the competition.

3 ways to stay competitive

According to Advisory Board research, groups who have adapted to the changing market and deployed successful recruitment strategies keep three things in mind when trying to outsell the competition:

  1. Compensation isn't the end all be all. While successful groups offer candidates market-competitive compensation packages, they prioritize candidates who are motivated by other cultural aspects of the job opportunity.

  2. Work-life balances is a key component of the offer—not just an added perk. By providing schedule flexibility when possible and a practice environment focused on efficiency, team-based support, and reducing burnout, medical groups can protect their investment and ensure long-term retention.

  3. Recruitment isn't just about getting a candidate to sign a contract. To distinguish your group throughout the recruitment process, being responsive to the detailed needs of a candidate and his or her family goes a long way. Top-performing groups ensure recruitment efforts include all aspects of the candidate experience—and their efforts don't end at contract signing. Rather, groups continue their efforts with extended onboarding programs to support candidates through their first two years to avoid early turnover.

With increased competition in the employed market and new physicians in high demand, groups are pressed more than ever to enhance their recruitment efforts and ensure long-term retention. To learn more about best-practice strategies to attract new candidates and ensure cultural fit download, "Winning the War for Physician Talent" and explore the Medical Group Strategy Council's Physician Recruitment Toolkit today.

 

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3 steps to help scope your physician engagement strategy

Strong physician engagement impacts a host of health system priorities, including physician retention, patient experience, care quality, and organizational costs. But many physician executives feel lost when navigating the multitude of potential tactics to improve engagement among both employed and independent physicians. Plus, time and resource constraints make it hard for executives to prioritize where they should invest their efforts.

Use the three steps in this infographic to help scope your physician engagement strategy.

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