Published in the August 2012 issue of Today’s Hospitalist
HOW STABLE IS THE HOSPITALIST WORKFORCE? A look at data on hospitalists’ job history and career plans reveals mostly good news “and a bit that’s not so good.
On average, hospitalists have been in their current job for about five years. And on average, hospitalists plan to stay in their current job for about eight years. Those data, which come from the 2011 Today’s Hospitalist Compensation & Career Survey, paint a picture of a fairly stable workforce. But look beyond the mean numbers, and the data reveal some interesting trends.
For one, nearly half of hospitalists say they plan to stay in their current jobs for five years or less. And the younger hospitalists are, the more likely they are to change jobs. That can be an issue in a specialty with so many young physicians. Here’s a look at what the data say about hospitalists’ job plans.
Years at current job
On average, hospitalists have been in their current job for just under five years. Pediatric hospitalists have been in their current job for slightly longer than adult hospitalists (6.27 years vs. 4.57 years).
Sort the data by geographical region, and there are few differences. The big exception is the Pacific region, where hospitalists report working in their current job for just under six years (5.81).
One predictor of job stability is age and experience. The longer physicians have been working as a hospitalist “and the older they are “the longer they’ve stayed at their current job.
Hospitalists between ages 26 and 35, for example, have worked in their current job for just over two years. Hospitalists between 41 and 50, by comparison, have worked in their current job for almost six years.
And when it comes to who hospitalists work for, trends emerge. Hospitalists working for multispecialty/primary care groups, for example, have been at their job the longest (5.97 years), compared to physicians working for national hospitalist management companies (3.99 years).
Plans to stay in current job
When we asked how long hospitalists plan to stay in their current job, we received some relatively good news. On average, hospitalists plan to stay in their jobs longer than they’ve already been there.
Hospitalists say they plan to remain in their current job for 8.37 years. The responses were fairly similar for adult hospitalists (8.32 years) and pediatric hospitalists (8.59 years).
Look beyond the mean numbers, however, and you see that nearly 50% of hospitalists say they plan to leave their jobs within five years. Nearly 14% of hospitalists between 26 and 35 plan to stay in their jobs for only a year, and 22% of hospitalists between three and five years.
Hospitalists working at teaching hospitals say they plan to stay in their jobs for 9.39 years, compared to 7.63 years for hospitalists at nonteaching hospitals. And job stability appears to be strongest for hospitalists in big groups; hospitalists working in groups with more than 15 physicians plan to stick around for 12.21 years.
That stability, however, appears to be weakest for hospitalists working in high-volume groups. Hospitalists working in groups that see 21-plus patients per shift plan to stay for 6.82 years. But hospitalists who work the most shifts per month (more than 20) plan to remain in their job for 10.30 years.
Finally, the more years hospitalists have on the job, the more likely they are to stay in their current position. Physicians who have been hospitalists for two years or less plan to stay on the job for 5.7 years, compared to 10.06 years for physicians who have been hospitalists for six to 10 years.
Interestingly, physicians who are over 50 plan to stay in their jobs for slightly fewer years than hospitalists between 41 and 50 (7.72 years compared to 9.26 years).