I recently had a conversation with a Chief Medical Officer who told me that hospitalists are lazy.  Surprised by this comment, I asked him to tell me why he felt this was the case.  It turns out, he was upset that his program was using locum tenens and he could not appreciate why the employed hospitalists refused to work more shifts.

His remarks resonated with me as they illustrate a disconnect that often exists in medicine.  Physicians and hospital executives both share a mutual objective: delivering the absolute best in patient care.  So why do we have such a hard time working together?  I joke with my wife that doctors are from Mars and hospital executives are from Venus.  Put simply, we must learn to understand one another and work together.

In my experience, here are the top four reasons hospitalists leave their employer.

Lack of Respect

I had a physician client tell me she quit her job shortly after she was called a “provider.”  When I asked her why, she replied “I’m a physician.  They can call me a doctor or doc or physician, but don’t ever call me a provider.”  It’s a sentiment shared by many physicians.  Respect goes a long way.  Do you use the term doctor or provider?

Meaningless work

Physicians are notoriously resilient with respect to work hours, heck we are trained to work only 80 hours a week during residency.  But that doesn’t’ mean we enjoy menial and at times monotonous tasks that take our focus away from our passion: practicing medicine.   How do we let physicians do what they do best?  Is a physician’s time best spent sitting at a computer and clicking boxes?

No opportunity for growth

A study in Harvard Business Review found that a lack of professional growth fuels top performers to leave their employer.  Physicians are no different.  Physicians are over achievers and we become easily frustrated when there is no opportunity for growth.  If you want to avoid an exodus, show your physicians that you are willing to invest in them.   How are you motivating your physicians?  Are there paths for leadership in your group?

Lack of empathy

Physicians are empathetic, it may be one reason we are more prone to burnout as compared to the general population.  But it also means we are keenly aware when our leaders are not displaying empathy.  One doctor told me that he was given a 6 day notice that he had to work Christmas because of staffing issues.  It was his primary reason for switching to locum tenens.

What’s the state of your hospitalist group?  Is it a healthy, stable group with little turnover?  Are you struggling with patient satisfaction but missing out on physician satisfaction?

If your health system is facing challenges with physician engagement, physician recruitment or locums utilization, please feel free to reach out to Dr. Ali Chaudhry at ali@mpsmd.com