Having a physician vacancy is no longer a viable option for healthcare organizations, yet many hospitals find themselves facing gaps in coverage and are paying the price.
Last year, the AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) offered updated projections on future physician supply and demand. Based on new data, the physician shortage is now estimated to reach between 42,600 and 120,000 doctors by the year 2030. This growing discrepancy between supply and demand continues to drive the cycle of physician turnover.
Even hospitals in the best geographic areas are losing doctors to positions elsewhere. Higher pay, better benefits, and the promise of better work/life balance are often more favorable than any retention program to keep them on your team.
The true cost of a physician vacancy
Losing a specialized physician like a cardiologist can cost your hospital about $3,849 per day each day that the position is open. With the average physician search lasting 194 days (about 6 months), that’s nearly $750,000 in lost revenue.
In addition, every day the position remains vacant is a detriment to the continuity of care that your patients have come to expect from your hospital. This can have a lasting impact on your reputation, patient loyalty, and revenue.
Beyond the financial burden, hospitals and other healthcare organizations often cannot afford to go without a physician due to the impact on the rest of the staff. Take the physician burnout crisis for example. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), one physician dies by suicide every day in the United States. That’s more than any other profession in the country. However, it is important to remember that burnout is not just faced by physicians. The stress felt by the team of staff members repeatedly asked to do more with less can quickly spread throughout a service line.
Responding to a physician vacancy
Beyond proactively working to ensure that your physicians are satisfied professionally, there aren’t a whole lot of options for preventing a vacancy. You can, however, have something in place for when all else fails. Create a plan that includes your overall strategy, any resources you’ll need to utilize, and the steps you’ll take as you navigate your vacancy.
Do you have a vacancy in your cardiology program?
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