AAPPR Highlights Recruiting Challenges Exacerbated by COVID-19

(Edited from recent 2021 AAPPR news releases)

Leaving a physician role vacant can cost an organization hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to the Association for Advancing Physician and Provider Recruitment (AAPPR).

Of course, this is exactly why the locum tenens industry developed In these times of growing physician (and other healthcare provider) shortages. Locum tenens clinicians continue care, handle overflow and fill open staff positions while the right ‘permanent’ healthcare providers can be found, vetted and prepared to manage those vacant slots.

But, for now, let’s get back to recent research and findings from AAPPR.

In its 2021 benchmarking report, AAPPR found turnover rates for physicians and advanced practice providers increased by 8 to 13% in 2020, depending on the provider role and patient population size.

To become better at what they do, healthcare staffing recruiters want to know why this is happening–especially during the continuing coronavirus crisis in which we find ourselves.

Can you take a few minutes to help enlighten them?

The deadline to participate in AAPPR’s (short) 2022 job satisfaction survey is Monday, January 31. The survey is designed to understand why providers leave, and how effective various clinician retention strategies are–as well as to assess how organizational mergers and acquisitions might affect recruitment and retention.

Physicians and other advanced practice clinicians can participate by clicking here.

AAPPR will make survey results available through its website in spring 2022.

Learned Last Year

According to AAPPR’s 2021Physician and Provider Job Satisfaction and Search Report,roughly 30% of physicians planned to retire between ages 60 and 65. While more than a third of respondents (which included both physicians and other advanced practice clinicians) reportedly were considering early retirement, more than half (56.72%) were considering, or had considered, changing employers.

Physician Searches Analyzed

Separate from the survey, more than 150 national healthcare systems and other organizations participated in an AAPPR’s annual research study representing more than 17,000 searches, almost two-thirds specific to physician jobs. Additional findings from the Physician and Provider Recruitment Benchmarking Report included:

AAPPR reports a 40% increase in physician vacancies compared to the same study the previous year.

Days needed to fill positions also rose, but only by an average of 8% across NP, PA, and physician categories. The modest increase was unexpected, given 44% of all searches were put on hold at the nation’s largest health systems due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition:

  • Representing a five-year high, 74% of offers were accepted by physicians in 2020.
  • As in past years, primary care specialties of family medicine, internal medicine, and hospital medicine are the most sought-after specialties, keeping them among the most competitive positions to fill.
  • Physician positions least likely to be filled in 2020 included hyperbaric medicine/wound care, occupational health, and otorhinolaryngology.
  • Physician specialties with the longest median days to fill (if filled) were dermatology, neurology, and gastroenterology; all at more than 220 days.
  • Physician turnover increased by more than 4% between 2019 and 2020, to an average of 13% in 2020.

“We fully anticipate physician shortage numbers to rise, as the findings in this report reflect just the tip of the COVID iceberg,” AAPPR President Emerson R. Moses said. “The industry was trending towards a severe shortage before the pandemic. COVID-19 has only accelerated the desire to retire for some and ended employment for others who refused to comply with vaccine mandates at federally funded health systems across the US. The field of physician recruitment is about to get a lot harder.”

The complete 2021 In-house Physician and Provider Recruitment Benchmarking Report is available online: https://aappr.org/research/benchmarking/ or email info@aappr.org

Focus Group Insight

A recent AAPPR focus group uncovered troubling operational and physician-candidate-pipeline challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Weary recruitment leaders, and departments facing decreasing funds and limited resources, seemingly exacerbated these problems.

Findings from the focus group, including some of the nation’s leading physician and provider recruitment experts, are available in AAPPR’s white paper entitled From Healthcare’s Front Lines: Industry Experts Sound Alarm on Concerning Physician Recruitment Trends in Coming Months.

The white paper indicates significant changes will be required to help address an already-depleted and decreasing physician workforce. The findings remind healthcare operational leaders to maintain up-to-date recruitment market intelligence that enables them to pivot quickly in both short- and long-term workforce strategies.

“The insights we received from the focus group highlight both new challenges and unexpected benefits,” AAPPR CEO Carey Goryl said. “We hope this report facilitates better understanding of physician recruitment cycles as competing organizations work to stabilize an uncertain physician supply-and-demand market.”

Specific topics covered in the AAPPR white paper include:

  • How physician work/life (un)balance and burnout perpetuate limited rural healthcare
  • Care-delivery talent shortages and the pressure-testing of COVID-19 vaccine requirements
  • Technology gaps uncovered during ‘waves’ of COVID-19
  • How critical it is to consider clinician market dynamics in formulating recruitment strategies

“The physician recruitment industry faces what’s been called ‘The Great Resignation’ as more physicians opt for early retirement, citing increasing burnout and unhealthy work/life balance–and the consequences across healthcare will be significant,” AAPPR President Moses said. “Today’s healthcare executives must continually review and revise their onboarding and retention plans to offset continued unanticipated turnover.”