Physician Turnover Rises as Hospitals Employ More Docs

Increase Likely to Continue

Ninety-percent of hospitals and other health facilities polled in a new survey used temporary physicians in the last 12 months — up from 74 percent the previous year. The main reason was to address physician turnover and to maintain services while hard-to-find permanent physicians are being sought.

The annual survey asked 230 hospital and medical group managers about their use of temporary physicians. Of those health care facility managers who used temporary doctors in the last 12 months, more did so to fill-in for physicians who had left than for any other reason.

Physician turnover is likely to increase as more health care facilities employ doctors, said Sean Ebner, president of Staff Care.

When physicians were mostly small business owners, they had more at stake in their practices and tended to put down roots, Ebner said. As hospital employees, they are more likely to switch jobs if compensation, schedules or other factors are not to their liking, he said. When that happens, many facilities turn to temp doctors, he said.

Health care facilities also use temporary docs to provide coverage while physicians are on vacation or to supplement medical staffs during peak usage periods, the survey found.

Primary care physicians such as family practitioners are in the greatest demand to temp, followed by behavioral health care specialists, hospitalists, emergency medicine physicians and general surgeons.

The survey further found that demand is growing for temporary non-physician clinicians such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

In 2012, only 4.8 percent of health care facility managers reported they had used temp NPs in the previous 12 months, according to the survey. In 2013, that number rose to 12.4 percent. The number of health care facility managers who reported they had used temp PAs rose from 4.7 percent in 2012 to 7 percent in 2013.

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