22 December 2015

Why Innovative Emergency Departments Recruit and Retain the Best Doctors

An earlier Sheridan blog post discussed hospitals’ need for defined and strategic recruitment and retention programs, especially in emergency medicine. The ugly truth is that emergency medicine will continue to be an “undersupplied specialty” for at least 20 more years. Since emergency medicine physicians also experience the highest rate of burnout among all specialties, it’s clear that recruiting and retaining the best of the best in emergency medicine will be a significant challenge for hospitals and health systems moving forward.

According to a recent Medscape article, “feeling like just a cog in a wheel” was the sixth leading cause of burnout for physicians in 2015. Of all the other factors that can lead to physician burnout, this is the one that hospitals can exercise the most influence over (unlike other factors, like the computerization of healthcare or the impact of the Affordable Care Act). Empowering physicians to take ownership of the processes and protocols within their departments and find opportunities for improvement is one way to alleviate that “cog” feeling. Not only can hospitals help physicians feel more fulfilled in their careers, but in doing so, the hospital as a whole stands to benefit.

Encouraging physicians to find innovative ways to improve inefficiencies in the ED empowers physicians to change the status quo. Physicians have intimate knowledge of the operations within their department and can have extremely insightful views on what needs to be fixed. Giving physicians a venue in which to raise these issues and offer solutions increases their engagement and job satisfaction, while also identifying process improvements. Furthermore, when process improvements are generated by the physicians themselves, they are automatically invested in the success of their solution. This helps overcome one of the biggest impediments to change within the hospital – physician buy-in.

Sheridan recognizes that committing to their physicians personal and professional growth is crucial to attracting and retaining the top talent. Recently, Sheridan held its first annual Innovate Emergency Medicine (iEM) Conference, which gave Sheridan physicians an opportunity to share ideas and learn from one another’s departmental innovations. Emergency medicine physicians from Sheridan facilities around the country came together to present unique ideas for improving the ED, particularly in response to changes brought on by the ACA, mobile technology and other factors that influence the modern ED. At this year’s conference, physicians shared ideas on improving communication among staff members, driving innovation and change within a hospital, and the changing role of technology in medicine.

The iEM Conference is an exceptional venue for physician’s innovations, but smaller, simpler channels can be just as effective. Sheridan also hosts an online physician portal where doctors can swap challenges and ideas. The company also conducts a Leadership Academy, which offers ongoing education and training for Sheridan clinicians. All medical directors participate in this collaborative environment, which focuses on effective communication, process efficiencies and other operational issues.

Allowing physicians to have a say in the way their departments are evolving is one of the best ways to combat physician burnout, and should be a part of any effective retention strategy. In the end, both parties win because the hospital benefits from the physician’s perspective and direction.

Stay tuned for an upcoming video from the iEM conference. If you want to learn more about how Sheridan helps hospitals run efficient emergency departments that attract staff and increase patient satisfaction, check out our “The Evolving Emergency Department” white paper.