BOSTON – October 11, 2022 – The challenging working environment of the last two years continues to have a significant impact on US clinicians including physicians, advanced practice providers (APPs) and nurses. Bain & Company’s Frontline of Healthcare survey reveals that a quarter of US clinicians are considering switching careers and a third are considering switching employers. Additionally, the research shows that around half of clinicians surveyed report their mental health has declined since the start of the pandemic.
Of the 25% of clinicians considering leaving careers in healthcare, 89% cite burnout as the primary reason. Additionally, 59% of all clinicians surveyed believe their teams are not adequately staffed, and 40% feel there is a lack of resources to operate at full potential. Their dissatisfaction is also illustrated by drastically dropping Net Promoter Scores ℠ (NPS), a measure of their likelihood to recommend their employer. US physicians’ NPS dropped 17 points from 36 points in 2020 to 19 points today and this year nurses weighed in with a dissatisfied NPS of 11 points. NPS is even worse for clinicians at management-led practices, those operated by a hospital, health system, parent company or private equity fund, who reported a NPS of only 6 points.
These challenges, including turnover and potential departure from the industry, come as the healthcare industry is already facing a tight labor market which is on track to be short 38,000 to 124,000 physicians by 2034, according to the AAMC. Aligned with the low NPS scores, hospital-based staff has the highest turnover rate, which increased 6.4 percentage points in the past year alone, according to NSI’s National Health Care Retention & RN Staffing Report. The staff RN turnover rate has reached 27%, exceeding the turnover rate for hospital staff overall (26%) for the first time.
“US clinicians have been bearing the brunt of a challenging environment over the past two years,” said Erin Ney, MD, an expert associate partner within Bain & Company’s Healthcare practice. “They have been under unprecedented pressure from rising clinical acuity and medical uncertainty due to the pandemic, providers’ steadily slipping financial health, and mounting labor challenges. The widespread dissatisfaction and burnout we’re seeing intersects with a growing clinician shortage that is already being felt throughout the industry. Without immediate attention, the effects could be exceedingly harmful to future patient care and the wellbeing of our healthcare workforce.”
Employers that want to reverse these trends need to actively address clinicians’ priority issues including better compensation, support to deliver high-quality patient care, a more manageable workload, flexible work arrangements and more clinically focused job responsibilities. Bain recommends the following near- and long-term solutions:
- Mitigate clinician burnout:
- Near term: Routinely assess and address clinician well-being. Leading employers are measuring clinician well-being and providing access to mental health support at the individual and group level.
- Long term: Invest in technology and people to ease administrative burdens. From scribes to coders to ancillary support services, the right technology and personnel can help reduce the draining administrative tasks that steal focus from clinicians’ most valuable work.
- Long term: Redesign the clinical operating model. Some providers are implementing multidisciplinary care teams (MDCTs) in both inpatient and outpatient settings, which allows clinicians to work at the top of their licenses to deliver more efficient, effective care.
- Spark employee engagement:
- Near term: Engage clinicians in decision making. Clinicians who feel they have a voice in their organization are far more satisfied at work.
- Long term: Elevate employee voices with feedback systems. Inspired and satisfied employees are three times more productive and 50% less likely to consider leaving. An employee Net Promoter System℠ establishes a closed feedback loop, which allows providers to respond to employee feedback quickly and escalate systemic issues to promote the continuous improvement of the employee experience.
- Foster a supportive environment:
- Near term: Build a culture of recognition. Around 55% of clinicians who aren’t considering switching careers feel that practicing medicine is a calling. They report the positive impact they make throughout their careers as the biggest reason for staying. Recognizing these moments of impact on a regular basis can bolster the organization’s culture and go a long way in making clinicians feel valued for their efforts and work.
- Long term: Champion support and inclusion. Strong coaching and mentorship are also directly correlated to employee satisfaction and well-being.
Providers have long focused on delivering high-quality care for their patients. Now, the imperative is clear: They need to ensure this high-quality care extends to their clinicians and employees. Healthcare employers that take near and long-term actions today will not only be better positioned to retain their current workforce, but will also attract the next generation of top talent.
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