Top 5 Reasons Physicians Change Work Situations

Data entry clerk or physician?

For many physicians who are job hopping, evidence shows data entry is an underlying reason they consider leaving their jobs. In fact, a study in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine found that ER doctors spend 43% of their time on data entry and only 28% with patients.

The problem has become so bad that physician burnout forums have popped up all over the web where literal “Drop Out Clubs” have been formed to help physicians ask and offer advice about how to deal with the stresses of their jobs.

Top 5 Reasons Physicians Change Work Situations

But, as Medical Economics has researched, you can switch EHRs and many of the woes of data entry can be alleviated by putting a more efficient system in place. This means that the cause of turnover must be a bit deeper.

Plus, there is the reality that for every unhappy doctor there are probably another four that love their jobs.

As an independent EM physician currently working for a hospital, consolidator or private practice; or as the owner or operator of a democratic emergency physician group, you should know why doctors quit and what you can do about it.

5 Reasons ED Physicians Leave Their Jobs

Before diving into some of the reasons physicians seek new employment (outside data entry), it should first be mentioned that emergency physicians understand they are in high demand and have great flexibility in the work situation they choose.

There are not enough EM doctors out there to fill all the jobs across the country, so when the pastures start getting a little bit brown, it’s not hard for a doctor to respond to one of the numerous solicitations they get everyday on LinkedIn, via email, or voicemail from some other group trying to lure them away.

In fact, the flexibility of this career may be what drives many to it in the first place. But the reality is, doctors aren’t looking to uproot their families for small increases in work quality. What we’ve witnessed is that there are five other factors that come into play when a doctor decides to go through the often stressful change in workplace.

#1. Climate: The Grass Really Is Greener And The Sun Brighter

As an example, lets look at Demetri, a sample of a physician that changes work situations. Demetri went to medical school in Chicago and put several years in at one of the busiest EDs in the country. He’d interned at a major emergency medicine hospitalist group and naturally got offered a job after school.

Years later, he had enough of the long winters of the Midwest and longed for the sun rays in his native Palm Beach County, Florida once again.

Given the demand EM docs have, it was not difficult for Demetri to make the decision to leave, nor was it hard for him to find a favorable position back in his home state.

Like Demetri, many physicians are attracted to the endless summers of places like South Florida and the benefits of this no income tax state. In this case, familiarity not only warms the soul, but the body as well. 

#2. Hostile Work Environment

Workplace differences aren’t just for corporate suit and tie environments. Healthcare practitioners face similar situations as well, and this applies to work environments and company culture too.

Take an EHR data entry example, where ED docs are complaining to the operations manager about the time spent on something that a better software or RCM partner can do, and the operations manager complaining that the doctors need to be more productive.

The physicians don’t feel that their needs are being met and are working longer-than-necessary hours to accommodate for what they feel is a worthwhile business investment that allows them to focus on patient care.

The result is a culture where management and employees don’t see eye-to-eye, where employees don’t feel respected or understood, and where the misalignment becomes a cultural mismatch of what the physicians expected upon accepting the position and the realities of what the management expects.

Inevitably, this results in a hostile work environment and the churn of otherwise loyal employees.

#3. Work/Life Balance

The cold winters of Chicago were not the only reason our friend Demetri left the Midwest for his home state of Florida. There were also some work/life balance interests that made the decision to leave his beloved Blackhawks behind.

For one, he started a new family and his new wife and baby would get the support they desired by moving closer to his parents. Secondly, he had some hobbies in the sunshine state that involved watersports that he simply did not get in Chicago.

A lot of people say, “work is not everything” and it sounds cliché, but it doesn’t define who you are, just what you do. So, Demetri, like so many other doctors that have family responsibilities or hobbies, may leave their jobs to satisfy their work/life balance.

#4. Lack Of A Challenge

While the glamour of television emergency rooms keeps us gripped to our seats, there are likely very few ERs that look like this on a day-to-day basis. However, it can be said that hospitals in smaller regions may not see the same excitement as those in bigger cities.

Practitioners who chose to start their careers in smaller more rural environments can eventually grow out of that situation and end up longing for a more high-paced, high adrenaline hospital.

Where one physician might enjoy the infrequent trauma, others get rushes from those emergency situations with high uncertainty and this adds to the fun of the job.

#5. Money

The lure of strong signing bonuses might be just what you need to move from one job to another, but the reality is these offers may be tough to come by. Even with a 10% pay raise, many docs won’t give up the certainty of what they get at their existing jobs to go through the stresses of searching for a new position, learning a new system, leaving behind old friends for new ones, and often uprooting their families to come along.

Then again, a nice infusion of cash may be just what the doctor ordered, and the golden carrot of being able to pay off a loan or get a bigger home may just be enough to lure a doctor from one job to the next.

Should I Stay, Or Should I Go?

Making the decision to stay at your current job or venture out and find a new one is a very subjective decision. While many can’t compete with the Sunshine State and all its weather and tax benefits, the mountains of Colorado may be worth a trip for others. A disagreeable management is often the biggest obstacle a physician can overcome by switching jobs, so if company culture is important to you, this is something to consider.

Family obligations often drive job moves, and if you need to be closer to family or your spouse or children need a change of lifestyle, this may be a well-needed adjustment. Lacking a challenge at work or money are also reasons physicians uproot, and these two are highly personal factors that weigh in for some more than others.

Whether you are looking for a new job or one is looking for you, understanding all of these factors will help you recognize all the elements that are important to you and your family, so you can make a decision that works well for you.

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