Money matters for recruiting young male doctors—but women value work/life balance more

What will keep early career physicians from leaving a hospital or health system may differ between men and women, according to a survey from CompHealth. But regardless of gender, most physicians said they’re finding jobs the old-fashioned way: referrals and networking.

The survey collected results from 592 physicians who had completed their medical training between 2014 and 2018. Smartphone use was high (93 percent) among the respondents, but almost all reported finding their first contract position through personal and professional relationships, like referral and networking (40 percent) and being offered a position where they completed their residency or fellowship (12 percent). Social media was the source for only 1 percent of respondents’ first jobs.

Once they have a permanent position, young physicians have generally been satisfied (65 percent), with nearly 80 percent still at their first positions. But that doesn’t mean they plan on staying there forever—26 percent said they planned to move on to a new position once a contract was up, 37 percent said they would stay beyond the end of their first contract and another 37 percent were undecided.

If they’re leaving a job, the top reason given by young physicians was compensation (59 percent)—not a surprise since 74 percent reported having substantial student debt—followed by work/life balance (51 percent) and bad management (45 percent). When broken down by gender, however, a gap appears.

“At this point in their careers, young physicians are generally concerned about finding jobs with a good work/life balance, location, and income. Men regard these three factors about equally, while women view work/life balance and location as primary concerns, and income as secondary,” the report said.

For men, compensation was the most common reason for leaving a job (69 percent), compared to 52 percent for women. More than half of women—56 percent —said they would leave because of poor work/life balance.

The need to offer financial incentives to recruit physicians has been repeated over and over again as the industry faces a looming shortage of doctors, but work/life balance matters more to younger physicians, according to Jackson Physician Search president Tony Stadjuhar, than it did to the “Marcus Welby” type of doctors who are retiring.

“These physicians falling off are going to probably take at least a doc and a half, at least, to be able to fill their shoes once they do retire,” he said at the 2017 Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) conference.

While compensation was the top factor to cause young physicians to look for a new position, satisfaction at a job appeared to be less focused on money. When asked to cite the top benefits of a current position, the most common answers were a good work/life balance (63 percent), location (63 percent), being close to friends, family and loved ones (60 percent) and culture fit (60 percent). Compensation (49 percent) and benefits (33 percent) were lower priorities.