UC San Diego faced 'serious morale problems' among physicians before targeted changes, report finds

In the past four years, physicians at UC San Diego's hospitals and clinics have reported low morale, prompting leadership to restructure management and work-related accommodations, according to an investigative report from inewsource in San Diego.

Press Ganey surveys from 2016 and 2018 reviewed by inewsource provide insight into physician morale at the health system's clinics and hospitals. More than 100 physicians answered each survey, which asked questions about job satisfaction and trust in leadership.

The 2016 and 2018 surveys showed that physicians' trust in leadership at UCSD's hospitals in La Jolla and Hillcrest, as well as the university's outpatient clinics, ranked in the bottom 1 percent when compared to 3,400-plus other hospitals and clinics. UCSD physicians' job satisfaction ranked in the bottom 3 percent, according to inewsource. Additionally, 1 in 5 physicians said they wouldn't recommend working at UCSD, with some employees saying they faced a "productivity-driven" environment where little time was left for research and teaching.

UCSD told Becker's Hospital Review it voluntarily initiated the surveys to get a baseline of physician experience, and there was a 30 percent response rate.

Employees told inewsource the scores were indicative of long-lasting concerns among UCSD physicians. In April 2016, conversations between physicians and university leaders led to a letter being sent to UCSD's chancellor, Pradeep Khosla, PhD, which said the Press Ganey scores reflected "serious morale problems" at the university's hospitals. Physician requests outlined in the letter included more flexible hours and opportunities for faculty input.

UCSD told Becker's that since then, several steps have been taken to address the challenges. The organization placed more than five physicians in new leadership roles, including three roles for associate CMOs who oversee hospital operations, quality and faculty affairs. A physician chief also now leads the Moores Cancer Center, and 100-plus physicians co-lead each of the hospitals' 65 clinics. 

Internally, 1,200 surveys were sent to physicians in March. Results showed that nearly half of UCSD physicians valued amenities that were added just for physicians, like lounges and parking spots, and a quarter most valued changes to leadership structure. 

To read the full inewsource article, click here.

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