Survey: Physicians And Their Bosses Don't See Eye To Eye On Retirement


By Molly Gamble

A new survey finds physicians have different expectations and reasons for retirement than their administrators assume.

The Physician Retirement Survey comes from Jackson Physician Search, which conducted the poll during November and December 2022 with 330 completed responses from physicians and 60 completed responses from administrators.

The survey is meaningful given the wave of physician retirements expected, and the need for administrators to have realistic expectations for this sea change in the U.S. physician workforce to plan for continuity at their respective practices and hospitals. More than 2 of every 5 active physicians will reach age 65 within the next 10 years.

Three key findings from the survey:

1. Burnout is a bigger factor in physicians' retirement than administrators think. Half of the surveyed administrators believed the primary reason physicians retire is age, but age didn't make the top three factors reported by physicians. Administrators underestimate the effect of burnout, which 24 percent of physicians said is the main reason for initiating retirement. Eleven percent of administrators identified burnout as the most important factor in retirement decisions.

2. Physicians and administrators have different expectations about how much notice should be given about retirement. Forty-one percent of physicians said three months or less is the ideal amount of notice to provide, and 32 percent said four to six months. This falls short of the ideal notice period 79 percent of administrators said they want — 47 percent said one to three years is preferable and 32 percent said they would like seven to 12 months of notice.

3. Physicians don't want a hard cut-off in entering retirement, but administrators think they do. Forty-three percent of physicians would like to reduce their work hours in the years leading up to retirement, which 71 percent of administrators believe to be true. Yet administrators miss the possibility of departing physicians working in some capacity for another organization — 30 percent of physician respondents plan to retire and work locum tenens or full- or part-time with other organizations; only 2 percent of administrators anticipate this preference.


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