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Blog | Coronavirus

Healthcare News of Note: Nearly half of U.S. physicians considering a change in employment, according to a Doximity study

Blog | Coronavirus

Healthcare News of Note: Nearly half of U.S. physicians considering a change in employment, according to a Doximity study

  • Nearly three-quarters of U.S. physicians report being overworked, and nearly half say they may retire early, work for another employer or change careers.
  • A study shows the majority of nurses and nursing students are considering leaving the profession.
  • Physicians can improve their patients’ understanding by using plain language skills when communicating in writing with patients with limited health literacy.

Over the last few weeks, I have found these industry news stories that should be of interest to healthcare finance professionals.

1. Nearly three-quarters of U.S. physicians report being overworked and nearly half say they may retire early, work for another employer or change careers

“Nearly three quarters (73%) of physicians surveyed report being overworked,” wrote the authors of a report on compensation and other physician trends.

Although 23.8% of those who reported being over overworked are not looking to change their employer, nearly half (49.5%) are considering a change in employment as follows:

  • 21.8%  are considering early retirement
  • 15.8% are looking for another employer
  • 11.9% are looking for another career

“This data is concerning and suggests that physicians may feel they are at a breaking point,” the authors wrote.

More than 2,000 U.S. physicians and 500 nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) were surveyed for the COVID Overwork Poll, which was a part of Doximity’s “2021 Physician Compensation Report.”

COVID-19 disruptions affect female physicians more

Female physicians in particular appear to have been disproportionately affected by COVID disruptions, the authors stated. They noted:

  • 25% of female physicians were considering retiring, compared with 20% of their male counterparts
  • 32% of male physicians reported not being overworked, compared with only 19% of female physicians

NP and PA data does not show same gender-based issues

“The data suggests there are gender-based differences in sentiments relating to overwork, burnout and early retirement among physicians that are not present among NPs and PAs,” wrote the authors. When it came to NPs/PAs, data showed:

  • 21% of male respondents were considering retiring, compared with 20% of female respondents
  • 27% of female respondents reported not being overworked, compared with 25% of male NP/PAs

2. Survey:  Majority of nurses say they give ‘some level of consideration’ to leaving the profession

“The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced long-lasting negative perceptions of [nurses’] future careers,” according to a news release about results of a nationally representative survey of nurses and nursing students by Cross Country Healthcare, Inc. The survey, which garnered 570 responses between May and June of 2021, was conducted in partnership with Florida Atlantic University’s Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing.

Survey results

The news release reported findings that included:

  • 66% of nurses and nursing students said they’ve given “some level of consideration to leave the profession,” which could have long-term impacts on the U.S. healthcare system post-pandemic
  • Nearly 37% of nurses “identify as being burned out, stressed and/or overworked”
  • 29% of nurses say their “desire to leave the profession is dramatically higher now versus pre-pandemic, noting the nursing shortage and inadequate staffing levels as top contributors to the low satisfaction”

“On one hand, this research shows us that the pressures for nurses under COVID-19 are significant and likely long-lasting,” said Henry 'Hank' Drummond, PhD, MDiv, RN, senior vice president and chief clinical officer at Cross Country Healthcare. “On the other hand, the data is very clear in outlining specific areas that we can improve.”

Ways to positively affect the profession

A few of the approaches that nurses believe would positively affect the profession include:

  • 81% of respondents “completely agree” that increases to pay rates and other incentives would attract and retain nurses
  • 85% believe cross training must be done to adapt to crisis events

3. Physician communication skills, including use of plain language for those with limited health literacy, are critical to patients’ understanding

Physicians can improve their patients’ understanding by using “plain language skills” when communicating in writing with patients with limited health literacy and by tailoring and matching their “expressive language” with that of individual patients, according to a research article published Dec. 17 in Science Advances.

“Physician-patient communication is a fundamental pillar of care that influences patient satisfaction, as well as health care quality, safety, and outcomes,” the authors wrote. 

“Determining whether physicians’ communication styles are associated with patients’ understanding is of tremendous clinical and public health significance,” they added.

Study highlights

The authors reported the following findings:

  • For patients with limited health literacy, “physicians’ expressive skills — often referred to as ‘plain language’ skills — when applied to written communications have strong potential to improve patient comprehension of physicians’ clinical discourse,” the authors wrote.
  • For patients with high health literacy, physicians’ use of plain language skills in written communication is “not significantly associated with patients’ reports of understanding.”
  • Physicians’ ability to adapt communication to match their patients’ health literacy promotes shared understanding and equity. 

About the Author

Deborah Filipek

is a senior editor at HFMA, Westchester, Ill. 

Sign up for a free guest account and get access to five free articles every month.

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