Academic Physician Roles Require More Clinical Time
Physicians pursue medical careers for many different reasons, just as physicians in academics took many different paths to get where they are today, and for a variety of motives. Academic physicians seek to teach and learn, in addition to practicing clinical medicine. They wish to make an impact on the lives of future physicians, as well as patients’ lives.
The physician workforce is not static – people are constantly leaving and entering it, all while the healthcare industry experiences numerous changes including those in legislation, (ACA, HITECH, etc.), patient population, technology, reimbursements, and other economic factors, to name a few. Recruiting physicians today to any setting is extremely challenging. The decision for a physician to practice in a private practice, community health center, for profit hospital or academic setting is difficult enough when the settings are clearly defined. In today’s practice environment, what were once distinctly unique settings and types of practices have become blurred and overlapping.
All of this results in a constantly evolving scene in academic medicine, creating new challenges in recruiting and retention of academic physicians. A “new standard” of academic medicine has emerged as the needs of academic medical centers shift under the weight of increasing financial burdens and government regulations.
Demographic changes in the physician workforce, including academics, have been widely reported. Diversity is increasing, with growing percentages of women, international medical graduates, osteopathic physicians, and ethnic minorities. Additionally, younger physicians are changing the workforce too as they enter and as more physicians from the older generation retire. The industry and environmental changes, combined with the workforce changes have resulted in a physician workforce that is more technologically savvy, seeking a better balance of work and life, while still earning enough to pay off staggering student loan debt.
According to Kelley Dunn, MBA, Director of Business Development for the Academic Division at The Medicus Firm, the Affordable Care Act and declining reimbursements, as well as cuts in research grant money have made it increasingly difficult for academic medical centers to remain financially viable, particularly with the same staff model of yesteryear.
“In years past, the ‘traditional’ work model for academic physicians included blocked time for both clinical practice and academic activities, (teaching, and research, etc.),” Dunn explains. “But, in many cases, the time set aside for academic activities has dwindled considerably, or has even become non-existent. Many current searches we are working in the academic sector have academic/administrative time that’s been reduced closer to about 20 percent, and the other 80 percent of the physician’s time spent in the clinical setting.”
Dunn adds that even the physical location of academic physicians is changing, as well as the entire inpatient model. “We recently placed a hematology/oncology nocturnist (hospitalist) with one of the leading academic cancer institutes in the nation. Previously, an inpatient oncologist was unheard of in an academic setting.” Additionally, Dunn says, academic centers are placing physicians far from the actual university hospital itself, sometimes 40-100 miles away, to help build out networks and refer patients in to help bolster subspecialty lines of service at the academic center. “We recently placed two gastroenterologists more than 40 miles off campus, who will spend the majority of their time treating patients, with very little, if any, time for academic activities.” She adds that this is increasingly becoming the norm for many other academic centers.
The above is an excerpt from a white paper regarding academic recruiting trends experienced by the recruiting leadership team and their clients of The Medicus Firm. To learn more about academic physician search trends, and receive a complimentary copy of this seven-page whitepaper in its entirety, please contact Kelley Dunn: kdunn@TheMedicusFirm.com.