The rate of physician turnover is extremely high, with many observers predicting it to increase even more. Add to that the diverse impacts of the physician shortage, and you’ve got a challenging landscape that will require careful planning to navigate. For this reason, a staffing plan is an essential element of your success.
Identify Needs and Challenges
By engaging in early dialogue with your various departments, you’ll know whether they’re expecting growth or downsizing in the coming year. You can also identify which specialties are most difficult to staff and how upcoming retirements might affect your teams.
You should then map out a needs assessment (there are needs assessment tools available online) with each department stakeholder and determine your replacement or growth needs for the next 12 months.
Research the Market
By taking the time to evaluate your staffing outlook, you can identify upcoming needs and possible threats to your success. This will improve your execution and long-term achievements. A good place to start is evaluating the resident/fellow outlook by specialty. You should also look at the other side of the spectrum, with trends in late-career physicians.
Another important aspect of research is determining what a competitive benefits package looks like. Evaluate your in-house resources and staffing partners to ensure you’re offering an enticing package.
Leverage Multiple Solutions
The physician shortage may affect your facility in some areas more than others. Don’t underestimate the value of retired and semi-retired physicians, as you can consider re-engaging them for part-time work.
Advanced practitioners offer another solution that may help you fill gaps and meet evolving needs. More and more facilities are turning to them as a cost-effective way to meet demand.
There are also times when an outside staffing resource makes sense. Locum tenens can provide a reliable and flexible solution, especially in times of unexpected staffing gaps.
Involve Your Staff
Talk to your physicians to get their opinions on the process. Specifically, gauge their level of burnout and how that might affect your plan. This is important to note, because specialties like emergency medicine, family medicine, critical care, and urology report burnout rates up to 54 percent.
The top three reported causes of burnout among all specialties are bureaucratic tasks, excessive work hours, and computerization, so you can help to address the first two by including your physicians in the discussion of workload.
Create a Flexible Plan
Even the best plans need to accommodate the inevitability of change. While your facility may experience growth, there may also be things like unanticipated retirements or staff departures.
For this reason, constant reevaluation is critical. If you’ve included physicians and other staff members in the conversation, you’ll often have a better view of the future.
By considering all angles of the staffing puzzle, such as retaining current staff, re-engaging physicians who are experiencing burnout, and leveraging locum tenens, you can better prepare for the future.