Clinicians are necessary for successful healthcare delivery. The roles they play in quality patient care, disease management, patient satisfaction, and overall population health are central to hospitals, clinical operations, and society as a whole. However, when a healthcare system experiences a high turnover rate in its clinician pool, the related costs are astronomical. For example, investing in a new hire can demand upwards of one million dollars just for the first year.
In addition to a six-figure salary, additional money for bonuses, benefits, relocation costs, training, continuing medical education, and malpractice insurance all must be figured in. Moreover, once the hire is made, the new clinicians must blend in with the culture, or the facility risks starting the process all over again. For that reason, every healthcare system must have an effective plan in place for keeping clinicians happy and willing to stay on board.
Reasons Your Healthcare Organization Should Have a Clinician Retention Plan in Place
Retaining the best talent is a significant concern for all hospitals and medical practices. If clinicians feel inadequately compensated or not included in the decision-making process, they may look elsewhere for work. It costs an organization a significant amount of money to recruit and hire just one clinician. When there is an opening in a pool, patient care and satisfaction suffer. The burden then falls on the other clinicians in the organization to make up for the shortfall.
The amount of time a position is vacant determines the significance of loss to the organization. A revolving door of clinicians exits translates to the decreased patient and employee satisfaction, lower quality of care, and stagnant market share.
An effective clinician retention plan protects against the following:
- Exhaustion. Emotional and physical depletion is dangerous for both patients and clinicians.
- Emotional Detachment. Losing interest or being short with patients and staff leads to dissatisfaction with care quality.
- A reduced sense of accomplishment. A clinician who suffers from burnout may begin to feel like their work is meaningless and start to worry about making mistakes.
The primary driver of burnout revolves around the macroeconomics of the healthcare system. Operational inefficiencies of individual facilities combined with the challenges of the job itself make things considerably worse. On top of all that, the realities of balancing a professional career with a family and other personal life challenges ultimately lead to burnout.
Clinician shortages limit or delay access to healthcare. This poses a real risk to the population. Aging clinicians combined with medical school enrollment caps are partly to blame. Add to this an aging baby boomer population now encountering complex medical issues, and the outlook grows dim.
Because it can be difficult to convince clinicians to relocate to rural or underserved urban regions, facilities in these areas are most at risk. Even with financial incentives for clinicians to work in rural areas, many prefer working and growing their careers in major cities surrounded by peers. In addition, the lack of opportunities for spouses to find work or children to attend top-tier schools adds to the shortage.
The annual average turnover rate for medical facilities is somewhere around 18%. Clinicians leave practices for a variety of reasons. Some of the main ones include:
- A lack of communication: Sometimes, clinicians misunderstand exactly what’s expected of them. Hospital recruiters who are anxious to fill vacant positions, and clinicians who are eager to land those positions may cause a rushed hiring process that shortchanges important conversations like expectations, career goals, and priorities of the institution.
- Salary issues: Financial security is often a deciding factor for choosing medicine as a career path. Young clinicians especially may be saddled with mountains of educational debt. If the salary offered turns out to not meet the monetary needs of a clinician, the decision to leave is often made.
- Excessive workload: Many clinicians and other healthcare staff admit that they are currently overworked. Increased work responsibilities can be a tipping point for a clinician who is not fully satisfied with a position anyway.
A clinician retention plan will help protect your healthcare facility from the hazards of dissatisfaction.
How can Healthcare Systems and Hospitals Plan for Retention?
Clinicians are continuously in short supply. That makes retaining them critical to the success of all healthcare organizations. To keep your clinicians happy, begin by being honest and thorough in the initial interview. When everyone is clear on expectations, there will be no surprises down the road. Help new clinicians feel welcome by assigning them mentors to help them fit in with the culture and learn the operation. Understand what your clinicians want not just at work but for their lives, as well. Clinician mental health is one of the most important aspects of the job. Finally, remember to keep channels of communication open because nothing can discourage a professional as much as not being heard or feeling as though they are being left out of important decisions.
A workplace optimization review is a good way to tap into the power of workforce analytics to ease the tension of understaffing and burnout. By automating workforce management processes, you can overcome challenges to keep your clinicians and entire staff satisfied in their jobs and willing to provide quality patient care long-term.
Partner With a Contingency Staffing Firm
Rather than waiting until a need or crisis arises, it is important to develop a strategic plan and contain costs. Partnering with a staffing firm like VISTA can prevent gaps in quality healthcare and save you money while keeping your clinicians happy.