Most healthcare provider leaders are eying the door—and many have already heard offers, survey finds

Healthcare leadership may be more optimistic going into 2024 than the year prior, but more than three in five say they're hoping for greener pastures within the next 12 months, according to a new survey.

The poll of 666 executives, directors and managers from provider organizations from staffing firm AMN Healthcare found that 66% of respondents intend to seek out a new position. Twelve percent plan to do so immediately, 62% within the next year and 38% within the next three to five years, according to the survey.

The responses also suggest there’s no shortage of open doors for job seekers. Nearly four in five survey participants said they had been approached about a new job opportunity within the past half month, with 17% of the full sample indicating that they had pursued the offer.

“Virtually everyone in healthcare, from clinicians to healthcare executives, has been under immense pressure due to the pandemic and other factors,” Christine Mackey-Ross, president of AMN Healthcare Leadership Solutions, said in a release. “The result is a high level of turnover that jeopardizes both administrative and clinical continuity at many healthcare organizations.”

As far as retention, the leaders most often pointed to their organization’s culture (45%) and compensation (41%) as the greatest potential factors in any decision to stay put.

On the other side of the conversation, 48% of respondents said that it has been “very or extremely challenging” to find a strong candidate for their open leadership positions. Forty-nine percent said that their efforts to hire new leadership candidates have been taking longer than prior years. In the meantime, 26% said that their facility had turned to an interim leader — of these, 66% said it was to fill a vacancy, 10% to manage an independent project and 21% for a combination of both.

The responses come even as more leaders believe their organization is starting to take a turn for the better after pandemic struggles.

Specifically, 52% said they expect the organizational health of their facility to improve in the coming 12 to 18 months, up from 37% in the prior year’s survey.

“After weathering the storm of COVID-19, which combined the double whammy of revenue losses with cost increases, many healthcare executives are seeing somewhat brighter skies ahead,” Mackey-Ross said.  “Revenues are returning and costs are stabilizing, though the challenges facing healthcare executives today remain serious and unpredictable.”

The leaders also outlined improving, though still low, engagement from their clinicians—33% said their physicians are “highly engaged” versus the previous year’s 29%, while perceived nurse engagement rose from 22% to 33%, according to the survey.

The respondents most often outlined financial pressures (44%) and serious clinician issues (33%) as the healthcare industry’s most likely spoilers in the coming years.

AMN’s survey was conducted from June to July via email. Its final sample was primarily female (59%), white (78%) and Gen X (49%). Directors/managers (50%) and C-suite/trustees (38%) made up most of the respondents, as did those who indicated working in a health system or hospital (73%).

The leadership-specific findings land amid a broader landscape of workforce challenges for the healthcare industry. Another survey from PwC published in the late summer outlined talent acquisition and retention as primary concerns among healthcare executives, while sector outlook reports still point to staffing as a primary factor in a provider entity’s financial health. All the while, more and more organizations unable to balance their operations’ finances are being forced to cut employees (often administrative, IT and even leadership) across a tough 2023.