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The Key to ED Physician Retention: Promote Work-Life Balance

Schumacher Clinical Partners' Blog Editor

Want to keep physicians committed to your ED? One key idea is to deliver a healthy work-life balance.

Here are five ways hospital administrators can assist in the development of a sustainable practice environment that staves off burnout and establishes the ED’s reputation as a fair and equitable place to work.

1. Give Physicians a Break

Don’t flip-flop doctors from day to night and back to day shift in short order. If your schedule requires docs to rotate from day to night, group as many of the same shifts together as possible and ensure a suitable break in between to give physicians sufficient time to rest and adjust their body clock before the next shift switch begins.

2. Keep Communication Lines Open

An open door policy is great, but after 12 hours enduring the pace and intensity of an ED, the chances are good your doctors won’t make time to pay you a pre- or post-shift visit just to touch base.

Instead, head down to the ED now and again to check in and chat one-on-one with physicians about the ED and consider what you might be able to do that will improve the practice environment.

3. Listen Objectively

As vital as it is for docs to feel the administration is engaged in and supportive of the success of the ED, issues will undoubtedly arise that never make their way to your ears.

As such, it’s helpful to check in with objective personnel, such as a scheduler, who is tapped into day-to-day operations, to get a feel for the general mood of the ED and its team members. If there are any issues afoot, it’s better to learn about them now, before they become a crisis.

No issues or problems? Highlight some specific positives in their performance and remind them that they’re valued.

4. Promote a Team Mentality

Ensure shift assignments are fair and balanced every day. That means every physician, regardless of seniority, trades off working nights, weekends, and holidays.

5. Address Stress

Physicians who consistently operate under high stress are more susceptible to burn out. And by anyone's estimation, emergency departments can be high-stress environments.

One way to address stress is through wellness programs that teach docs ways to improve their resilience and maintain balance. Another is to conduct wellness surveys to assess stress levels among ED staff.

Regardless of the avenue you take, let your doctors know you understand the stress they face and support efforts to alleviate it through any means possible.

For more information on how our experienced teams can help you establish a healthier practice environment for your physicians, visit schumacherclinical.com/hospital-leaders.

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