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The high cost of turnover


Know what turnover costs your organization, the cause and how to retain physicians to save. Posted by Alexandra Cappetta
Know what turnover costs your organization, the cause and how to retain physicians to save.

Retaining hires and minimizing turnover is an evergreen goal for recruiters, but pre-existing challenges intensified by the pandemic have further complicated that objective. In fact, the American Medical Association reports a quarter of health care workers have considered leaving their jobs since the pandemic’s onset.

Turnover among physicians and advanced practice providers is expensive, period. But as the trend continues upward, it’s essential to note the cost for your organization and, most importantly, what you can do about it.

Know the cost

Pandemic or not, physician turnover is a financial burden for health systems. But just how costly is it?

According to the American Medical Association, the expense of replacing a physician can range from $50,000 to $1 million per doctor.

That’s a lot of lost revenue when a hire leaves your organization.

What makes turnover even more expensive is the rate at which it is occurring right now. According to a recent study of 1,000 health care workers, 1 in 10 have resigned from a job since February. So even if just two out of 20 physicians at your organization resigned, you could be looking at a revenue gap of up to $2 million.

Know the cause   

Pre-dating the COVID-19 public health crisis in the United States was the health care industry’s own public health crisis: physician burnout. Research from Mayo Clinic estimates around 44% of physicians and APPs have experienced burnout. However, the added pressures of contracting COVID, treating coronavirus patients, physical exhaustion from longer hours and emotional strain has only grown more prominent.

These additional factors have made burnout more challenging to avoid and, subsequently, the recruiter’s goal of retention that much more challenging to maintain.

The American Medical Association has recognized this and developed the AMA STEPS Forward module on joy in medicine, a calculator designed to help organizations determine the likely cost of burnout related to turnover. You can update the fields with specific information - like the number of physicians in your organization and your current turnover rate - to estimate the projected cost for your health system.

You can also be proactive about advancing your retention techniques by checking out this recent PracticeLink article to learn an additional six reasons physicians leave their jobs.

Prioritize retention by prioritizing your hires’ well-being

Now more than ever, physicians and advanced practice providers are looking to their employers to support them and offer resources to help them do their jobs.

Establish an open dialogue with your staff about their challenges, concerns and workload. Remind them you’re available to answer any questions they may have and provide guidance during stressful periods. In conjunction, do your best to encourage a realistic work/life balance, be intentional about communicating potential obstacles and continue to offer helpful resources and information that can be of assistance.

Helping your staff avoid burnout is one of the most effective ways you can improve retention and minimize turnover.


Focusing your efforts on the needs and well-being of your hires will not only ensure they deliver quality care, but it also gives them reassurance that they are seen, valued and will have the necessary support to thrive - even in times of chaos.


To learn more about the cost of turnover, ways to reduce it and other retention skills, contact We’re here to help!


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