Changing Physician Desires Affect Recruitment

Healthcare seems to be in a constant state of change, and the aspect of physician recruitment is no exception. The world of physician recruitment has seen quite a few changes in the past few years, especially after the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed and was upheld by the Supreme Court

"The biggest changes [in physician recruitment] have come about as the result of the [PPACA], and I think that it has had a bigger impact than anyone can imagine," says Tony Stajduhar, president of Jackson & Coker, a national physician recruitment firm.

The PPACA and other shifts in healthcare delivery have increased the number of physicians looking for employment. Mr. Stajduhar says many physicians view employment as a "safe harbor" from reduced reimbursement and other uncertainties brought on by reform. These uncertainties have changed the way physicians look at their work and employment opportunities, he says.

Change in focus

In a recent survey done this year by Jackson & Coker, physicians listed lifestyle and potential and immediate income as the most important factors they consider when relocating to a new job. Twenty-five years ago, physicians listed hospital facilities, potential income and their spouse's preference as their top concerns.

Mr. Stajduhar attributes the change in physician concern to the PPACA and the uncertainty of the future of healthcare, especially in terms of reimbursement. "It is the fear of not knowing what is going to happen," he says, that is driving the concern about income.

The other major change in physician attitude that Mr. Stajduhar has seen is the focus on lifestyle in younger generations of physicians. "They are not so worried about seeing a lot of patients, they want a work-life balance," he says. Work-life balance was not on the list of physician concerns in the 1980s, but it is the number one concern now, according to Mr. Stajduhar.

Both of these changes have an impact on physician recruitment. Hospital recruitment teams need to understand the preferences that physicians have and appeal to them in order to make their hospital the most attractive.

The "-ist" factor

Many hospitals have begun to employ or contract hospitalists recently, according to Mr. Stajduhar. "As short as a decade ago, physicians were hesitant to become hospitalists," he says. "Today, we've gotten to the point where it's embraced."

Mr. Stajduhar says that physicians enjoy being hospitalists because the positions come with a certainty in scheduling and usually an employment contract, which goes back to the concern of having a steady income.

The number of hospitalists nationwide has grown steadily since 2003, according to the Society of Hospitalist Medicine. Mr. Stajduhar says that many hospitals are building their own hospitalist program or are using an organization to staff hospitalists for them.

And it is not only hospitalists that are becoming popular; the format is growing in other areas of medicine as well. Mr. Stajduhar gives the examples of hospitals having general and orthopedic surgicalists on staff.

He does note that there is a downside to this growing trend. "[Hospitalists] do not just fall from the sky, and they are not being added to the industry," Mr. Stajduhar says. The hospitalists are taking physicians away from primary care or normal outpatient-based care. He says that hospitalist programs are pulling the physicians from family practices around the nation and contributing to the shortage of primary care physicians.

More Articles on Hospital-Physician Relationships:

How ACOs Will Affect Physician Recruitment
Tricky Business: Acquiring, Losing and Changing Physicians
3 Insights Into the Future of Hospital-Physician Relationships

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