Secrets to Hiring and Retaining Medical Practice Staff


The health care job market is booming. In 2015, the industry added an average of 40,000 jobs a month, almost double the 2014 rate, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). What does this mean for your medical practice? To hire and retain the best staff in this competitive market, you need to make sure you’re doing everything you can to provide an appealing work environment for your employees. Read on to find out how.

What do health care professionals really earn?

First and foremost, determine whether you’re paying your employees competitively. Doctors’ salaries have been following a slight upward trend over the past few years. According to the 2015 Medscape Physician Salary Report, the average compensation for specialists is $284,000 and for a primary care physician is $195,000. Ophthalmologists made an average of $292,000 per year. And job growth for optometrists—whose median annual salary is $101,410—is much faster than the average for all occupations. It’s projected to increase 27 percent by 2024, per the most recent BLS data.

It’s important to consider cost of living in your area in the salary equation, as well. This can change over time, as can competition and physician density in certain parts of the country. In 2015, the highest physician earnings were reported in the Northwest and South Central regions of the U.S., a change from the 2011 report, which showed the highest earnings in the West and North Central regions.

Don’t overlook support staff

Of course, practices need to consider how they compensate support staff as well as doctors. Total support staff costs make up about 30 percent of medical revenue in multispecialty groups, according to the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA).

The median pay for medical and health services managers, also called health care executives or health care administrators, was $92,810 per year or $44.62 per hour, according to the BLS. Medical receptionists make an average of $12.90 an hour, salary surveys show.

Of course paying a competitive wage is vital, but offering higher salaries is not the only or even best way to go, says the MGMA. Nor is cutting staff to save money a smart idea, since productivity and revenue can take a hit. The answer may be an attractive benefits package. This Medical Economics article looks at the key benefits employees care most about, including vacation time, sick leave, and bonuses. (For more on creating staff incentive programs, see this post from our archives.)

Company culture: the secret sauce

Beyond salary and benefits, however, what may have the biggest impact on your practice’s ability to attract and retain the best staff may be something more intangible, like workplace culture. Culture sets you apart from your competition, says physician recruiter Melissa Byington in Physician’s Practice.

“In a job seeker’s market, it’s important to ask yourself some tough questions. Why would a physician or staff member choose to work with your practice? What makes you stand out from the competition? What are you doing to keep your current team engaged?” If you’re doing things right, says Byington, the answer to each of these questions is that your practice prioritizes a strong company culture. This doesn’t just happen by itself, though. It requires effort and a commitment to hiring for fit and training for skills, and asking for regular feedback from your staff, among other things.

You might even consider targeting some of your hiring and company culture efforts towards the specific needs of millennials. This generation, born in the early 1980s through the early 2000s, will make up roughly 75 percent of the global workforce by 2025, according to research from Deloitte. In general, this generation is highly empathetic and tech-savvy, and values work-life balance, flexible schedules, variety and skill-development in their jobs, and volunteering/giving back to their communities—making millennials ideally suited for working in healthcare.

You spoke out and Rendia listened. Due to high demand, we have released a free downloadable resource to help you hire and retain the best staff for your practice!

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