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One of the largest groups of physicians – those of the baby boomer generation – are at and nearing retirement age. Known for their commitment to their careers, willingness to work long hours, and high productivity, many of these aging physicians have begun to retire or are planning to soon. This fact has many in the health care industry worried about the future of health care –  and if there will be enough providers to treat an aging population.

 

As these physicians retire, create succession plans, and prepare to leave the workforce, many in the physician recruitment sphere are wondering what this means for their organizations and future recruitment plans. 

 

 

A Shrinking Workforce

The looming physician shortage has been a concern for physician recruiters everywhere. As American’s continue to age and the number of new physicians entering the workforce each year stays the same, recruiters are finding it harder and harder to find qualified candidates to meet the needs of their patient populations. To make matters worse, the baby boomers have already begun to retire – both physicians and non-physicians alike. This is creating a booming need for physicians just as many are exiting the workforce.

 

 

Productivity Imbalance

Not only are there not enough physicians entering the workforce to make up for those leaving (or the increased demand), but newly minted physicians are also much less productive than their baby boomer counterparts. For example, it takes 1.6 younger physicians to replace a baby boomer internist, and 2.0 younger physicians to replace a baby boomer pediatrician. Because of this, many organizations will find themselves needing to hire even more physicians as aging physicians retire in order to continue to serve the same number of patients.

 

 

What You Can Do About It

While recruiters cannot start minting new physicians at a faster pace, there are a few things that recruiters can do in order to lessen the blow dealt by aging physicians retiring from their workforce:

 

  • Plan ahead! Work with your physicians and administrators to plan out how many new physicians you will need based on your attrition rates
  • Work with older physicians in your organization to create succession plans and map out the time leading up to their retirement
  • Create an aggressive physician recruitment strategy to hire both graduating and experienced physicians well ahead of your anticipated need
  • Work with a physician recruitment firm to create a long term recruitment plan and increase the number of qualified candidates your are able to source

 

Conclusion

 

While the aging physician landscape poses new and unique challenges to physician recruiters, the effects of it are things that can be planned for ahead of time. By making a thorough manpower plan, working with your existing physicians, and engaging in a comprehensive physician recruitment effort, organizations can weather the troubles they are sure to face as their experienced physicians and physician leaders move towards retirement.