The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating the retirement of many healthcare providers. The United States is now facing an acute shortage of doctors, nurses and medical assistants, placing medical offices in an unprecedented position. New data released by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) showed an estimated 54,100 to 139,000 doctor shortages in the US could exist in both primary and specialty care by 2033. The association’s sixth annual study , The Complexities of Physician Supply and Demand: Projections from 2018-2033, was conducted before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The analysis included supply and demand scenarios and was updated with the latest information on trends in health care and the condition of health care workers. From 2018 to 2033, the US population is projected to grow 10.4% from about 327 million to 361 million. According to the report, the U.S. population under 18 will grow 3.9% while the population over 65 will grow 45.1% by 2033.
“Baby boomers need help now and are living longer,” said Frank F. Brabec, MBA, founder and CEO of Brabec Healthcare Management Inc., Indio, California. “So they will stay in this room and receive medical care for a long time. We’re not keeping up. A ramp-up is necessary for the increasing demand. “
Older doctors who quit it
The pandemic has accelerated the number of clinicians retiring, he said. It is most pronounced today in certain regions of the country, with rural areas being the most critical. “A lot of people said, ‘Okay, I’m done now.’ As a result, there is less supply and more demand, and now we see hospitals offering more in terms of compensation, ”said Brabec, who is also an independent advisor to the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA).
The analysis showed that in the next ten years more than 2 out of 5 doctors currently working will be 65 years of age or older. A shortage of doctors was already apparent before the pandemic. An opinion poll conducted by Public Opinion Strategies for the AAMC in September 2019 found that 35% of voters said they had had difficulty finding a doctor in the past 2 or 3 years. This was a 10 point jump since the question was asked in 2015.
“I think people are leaving in droves,” said Dave Carpenter, CEO of Minnesota Urology, the largest independent urology medical group in the upper Midwest. “There are more people leaving healthcare because of this whole pandemic scared them.”
Candidates in short supply
Finding doctors can be particularly challenging this year as fellowship programs slowed down during the pandemic. “So there are fewer candidates to draw on,” said Brabec. “There was already a lack of doctors and nursing staff. Due to the pandemic, 80,000 nursing students were unable to train for financial, space and personnel reasons last year, and that will leave its mark.
In an MGMA Stat survey on May 6, 88% of health care executives said they had difficulty hiring medical assistants, and several studies showed that a large percentage of nurses are either considering or planning their jobs to give up their position. “You can feel how the ground moves under our feet. Workers now have a say in where and how they work. Lots of new hires are asking for hybrid work models, ”said Carpenter.
According to Carpenter, never before has healthcare been such a focus on finding and retaining workers. “With 40% sales, you could be spending nearly a million dollars in hard and soft costs,” said Carpenter, who is currently a board member of the Large Urology Group Practice Association.
In the first 6 months of this year, Carpenter met virtually with other urological practices about recruiting and training employees. There is now a need to shift wages for positions that present challenges in recruiting. “Signing bonuses to attract candidates is becoming the norm. But fairness towards existing employees is also important. When you have loyal employees, you need to be careful about your recruiting incentives, ”Carpenter said.
It is common today to pay a signing bonus of $ 500 to $ 1,500 depending on your position and demand. In some medical offices, employees who refer someone for a hired position receive $ 500 if the new hiring stays for 6 months. “We’re shaking the trees, going to schools to try and get clinical assistants. The problem is, fewer of them are leaving school, ”Carpenter said.
Novel approaches to employee retention
Lending is common, as are a host of other perks. A doctor’s office in the Midwest recently bought a Florida beach house to attract and retain good staff. “Employees can reserve and use the beach house for a certain number of days depending on the year of service and seniority,” said Carpenter. “Everyone is looking for new approaches.”
Brabec said the biggest problem he sees in many medical offices is that they don’t define their mission. Afterward, employees just think their day is a lot of chores and they get a paycheck. “It’s a lot easier to retain people when they feel like they’re part of a team, like a baseball team. They have to feel important and that means that they are being listened to, ”said Brabec.
Open communication and empowerment are the keys. Carole Ann Norman, who runs a large nephrology practice in Columbia, South Carolina, said optimal benefit packages should include employee benefits such as health, dental, life and long-term disability insurance.
Most incentive packages now include coverage of all position-related costs, such as: B. a professional liability insurance and a license extension. Norman’s group includes memberships with professional medical organizations and grants leave for medical training that does not count towards their personal leave.
This article originally appeared on the Kidney and Urology News