It’s Time For C-Suite To Contract Directly With Physicians For Part-Time Work


By Aaron Morgenstein, Md & Corinne Sundar Rao, MD

Is your facility struggling to recruit and staff full-time physicians? Are you spending excessive amounts on staffing agencies and private management companies to make up for your shortage of physicians?

Physicians are leaving traditional clinical medicine because you, the C-suite, are not adapting to the changing times.

Do you care, or are you more focused on replacing physicians with cheaper labor?

Unlike the older generation of retiring physicians, the younger generation is not wanting to grind it out for the next 30 years working for “the man.” The younger physicians strive to work fewer hours and shifts while seeking the illusive work-life balance. They want part-time opportunities. In this article, we explore why physicians are leaving traditional medicine and what the C-suite can do to keep physicians in medicine.

200,000 physicians did not leave clinical medicine due to COVID; they quit their jobs.

It has been suggested that 100,000 to 200,000 physicians left medicine during the COVID-19 pandemic. Really? Where did they all go? Last I checked, Mcdonald’s ain’t paying 6-figures to work at the counter and ask, “do you want fries with that.” We do not know how many have left medicine altogether because the studies have only looked at the number of physicians that quit their jobs without following up to see where those physicians ended up.

Younger doctors, especially women, are fueling the physician shortage by leaving medicine entirely without having opportunities to work less or part-time.

Currently, 45 percent of physicians are over 55 years old, and in 10 years, 40 percent of physicians will be over 60 years old. We don’t have enough younger physicians that will replace the older docs. There are 39,000 residency spots yearly, and this country can’t fill 3-4,000 residency spots annually. Fifty percent of physicians have burnout symptoms which correlate with a decline in job satisfaction. The younger generation of physicians is expected to have a much shorter career in traditional clinical medicine as they seek alternative careers. 2 out of 5 physicians will pursue alternative careers or fewer hours in the coming years. Upwards of 40 percent of women physicians retire or go part-time six years out of residency. Women, more so than men, prioritize their families and seek a work-life balance. They don’t want to be treated like 2nd class citizens and be burdened by the system.

Almost 50 percent of those planning to retire say they would stay in medicine if there were part-time opportunities. Anecdotal research suggests that 40 percent of retired physicians would return to medicine if part-time opportunities were available.

Why should physicians stay in traditional medicine if so many other options exist to make great money and not deal with the hassles of patients, insurance companies, and hospital systems?

Telemedicine: $100+ per hour to work from home with no call.

DPC and cash-only services: $200K+ per year to set your own hours.

Medi-spa and weight loss clinics: $100K+ per year to avoid insurance companies.

Utilization management: $100+ per hour to work 40 hours per week remotely.

Life coaches: $250 to 350 per hour cash without prescribing medications.

Pharmaceutical consultant: $150K+ salary to work a non-clinical job.

Medical expert work: $300 to 600 per hour to review legal charts from a couch.

Real estate guru: unlimited long-term wealth can be achieved.

(The numbers above are averages; some could make much more than what is posted.)

Physicians will continue to leave medicine as they find alternative careers if they can’t find great facilities to work for and ones that offer clinical arrangements that align with physician demands.

Does your facility provide the resources for physicians to do their job? Does your facility have a great culture that physicians seek out? Do you actually prioritize patients and staff over profits?

Physicians are looking for facilities that offer non-traditional and part-time roles. Here are several examples of how facilities can set up clinical arrangements for physicians to work part-time.

-Four-day work weeks

-Fewer hours in a day or shift

-Five or fewer days of call per month

-Longer stretches of time off (i.e., ten days)

-10 to 14 days of work per month

-1 to 2 days per week, 1 to 2 weeks per month, or 1 to 2 weekends per month

-“Administrative” and telemedicine days from home

Physicians are growing tired of being traditional employees and working for the middleman. Consider contracting with physicians directly for “locums-type” or part-time work.

Physicians are fed up with the treatment they receive from staffing agencies and private-equity-owned management companies. Many feel that the only way to do their jobs is through these companies. Why not offer physicians a different way to work with your facilities? Make them part of the team! Offer to contract directly with physicians as a 1099 independent contractor and pay them well.

Contracting directly with physicians could be a win-win for the C-suite. Having a pool of part-time physicians can help to staff your facility’s needs while also lessening the burden on your full-time physicians. Facilities that close themselves off from this pool of potential candidates hurt their ability to recruit and retain physicians and rely on costly staffing agencies to fill their open spots.

Do you want to keep relying on costly staffing agencies?

Contracting directly with physicians for part-time work can be challenging but worth it in the long term.

Please don’t insult us with these lowball offers. Grasp a better understanding of the Stark Law revisions from 2020 to pay independent physicians fairly. Let’s start to think about what is “Commercially” reasonable. Establish ways to pay physicians better and save money from using staffing agencies or another middleman.

Lastly, please work with us to figure out a reasonable way for independent physicians to obtain malpractice insurance. You could easily find ways to slot us into your facility’s policy or reimburse us for our premiums.

As more physicians leave their traditional clinical practices, your medical facilities must adapt to the changing times. How will you recruit differently? How will you staff differently?

What can you do locally to keep physicians in medicine? Consider contracting directly with part-time independent physicians.

Aaron Morgenstein is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon.

Corinne Sundar Rao is a board-certified internal medicine physician.


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