Motivated overwhelmingly by burnout, 1 in 4 clinicians in the U.S. want to leave their careers in healthcare, according to a new survey from consulting firm Bain & Company. And one-third are considering moving to another employer.
Bain's Frontline of Healthcare survey also found that about half of clinicians (physicians, advanced practice practitioners, and nurses) reported that their mental health had declined during the pandemic. Of the 25% of clinicians contemplating leaving healthcare, 89% cited burnout as the primary reason.
Bain also noted that 59% of clinicians believed their teams were not adequately staffed, and 40% believed that there is a lack of resources to operate at full potential.
The firm said that U.S. physician net promoter scores (NPS), a Bain measurement of the likelihood of a respondent recommending their employer, have dropped from an average of 36 points in 2020 to 19 points today. Nurses were even more dissatisfied, generating an average NPS of 11 points. What's more, clinicians working at management-led practices -- those operated by a hospital, health system, parent company, or private equity fund -- had a NPS of only six points, Bain said.
With a projected shortage of 38,000 to 124,000 physicians by 2034, the healthcare industry is already facing a tight labor market, the firm noted. Hospital-based staff had the highest turnover rate, increasing by 6.4 percentage points within the last year, according to NSI Nursing Solutions' National Health Care Retention and RN Staffing Report. The turnover rate for registered nurses reached 27%, surpassing hospital staff (26%) for the first time.
To reverse these trends, employers must actively address priority issues for clinicians, including better compensation, support to deliver high-quality patient care, a more manageable workload, flexible work arrangements, and more clinically focused job responsibilities, Bain said.
To mitigate clinician burnout, Bain recommends that employers focus in the near term on routinely assessing and addressing clinician well-being, including providing access to mental health support at the individual and group level. Over the long-term, employers should invest in technology and people to ease administrative burdens, as well as redesign the clinical operating model, Bain said. This could include implementing multidisciplinary care teams in both inpatient and outpatient settings, according to the firm.
Bain further recommends efforts to improve employee engagement, including involving clinicians in decision-making. Over the long term, feedback systems should be implemented to enable providers to quickly respond to employee feedback, the company said.
A supportive environment should also be fostered. In the near term, a culture of recognition should be built to recognize clinicians for their positive impact and make them feel valued, Bain said. Long-term approaches should also include initiatives that champion support and inclusion, such as coaching and mentorship, according to the firm.
"Healthcare employers that take near and long-term actions today will not only be better positioned to retain their current workforce, but will also attract the next generation of top talent," Bain said in a statement.