Last March, a survey conducted by the American Medical Group Association showed medical groups saw an average turnover rate of 6.8% in 2012, the highest since the AMGA began collecting data in 2005.
Survey respondents also reported an 11.5% turnover rate among physician assistants and nurse practitioners, which represented no change from the previous year.
Improvements in the real estate market and the improving economy were blamed for the uptick in turnover. Older physicians who may have delayed retirement during the recession felt comfortable enough to hang up their stethoscopes. Other physicians who simply wanted to relocate may have seen the opportunity to sell their homes for a profit.
The trend of physician turnover is not expected to slow. One in three physicians is over the age of 55 and many of them are expected to retire in the next 10 to 15 years. Also, 60% of physicians say it is likely they will retire earlier than planned.
Other key information from the report includes the following:
- More than one-third (36%) of reporting groups expect the pace of retirements to increase in the coming year.
- More than three-quarters (76%) of respondents plan to hire more primary care physicians in the next 12 months.
- The average turnover rate for physicians in their second to third year of practice is 12.4% and small groups suffer from 20.8% turnover among physicians in those early years.
With this shrinking workforce, it will be important for hospitals and healthcare organizations to develop innovative ways to recruit and retain new practitioners. The survey revealed that organizations that invest more time in the onboarding process report a lower turnover rate.
Those who struggle to recruit and retain physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants should consider using locum tenens providers to bridge the gap between permanent providers. Many hospitals, practices, and companies use locum tenens physicians to hold a position until they can find a permanent provider. Rural facilities, which have a particularly hard time recruiting physicians, use a steady stream of locum tenens providers to ensure they can provide care to their patients.