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Physician Well-being Saves Millions, Boosts Patient Safety


A hospital with just three dripping faucets at five drips per minute wastes 520 gallons of water a year.

It costs a hospital an average of $150 annually to leave a 150-watt computer turned on around the clock.

Replacing just one physician who leaves a hospital due to burnout can cost $236,383.

Measuring and managing are ongoing functions of operating a hospital. Some areas have well-developed metrics and solutions, while others—such as physician human resources (PHR)—are more subjective.

Physician retention and well-being was the subject of a two-year research project conducted for one of the nation’s largest hospitals by a team from FaithSearch Partners (FSP), a national executive search firm based out of Houston. The study was commissioned in order to identify key measures for improving physician well-being and reducing the hospital’s spending on human capital.

“Burnout, divorce, substance abuse, physician impairment and suicide are reaching epidemic proportions within medical community nationwide,” said Dr. Jeff Jernigan, FSP Senior Vice President. “There are serious implications for human and financial loss for physicians, the institutions within which they work and the patients they treat.”

The study recorded 1,266 contacts with physician and physician family members. Issues presented included depression, anxiety, burnout, suicidal ideation, substance abuse, interpersonal relationship difficulties, marriage and family difficulties, divorce, stress management, conflict management, work/life balance and other psycho-social stressors. The study identified six key measures including physician turnover, replacement costs, absenteeism, retention, employee relations issues and other business/human resource criterion along with the basis for setting annual metrics for those measures.

An in-hospital service, Physician Support Services (PSS), was established to focus on physician wellness using a holistic approach to physician well-being. “We found it is less helpful to treat the physician only in counseling or therapeutic context than it is to also address issues related to their life and work environments,” said Dr. Jernigan.

During the two-year study, more than 50 physicians received support through major negative life or career events as a result of the PSS initiatives put in place. The study also identifies that in the majority of cases requiring interventions, PSS mental health professionals were able to ameliorate potentially serious or critical situations that otherwise would have led to the physician’s resignation or termination.

“We have identified that PSS played a critical role in the development of relational capital between the hospital and physicians,” said Dr. Jernigan. “In addition, the programs made a significant bottom-line contribution.” Data collected over the course of the study show $2,875,000 in cost avoidance savings in 2011 and $2,312,000 in 2012, for a two-year total of more than $5.1 million.

Please contact Dr. Jeff Jernigan at  for more information.



Dr. Jeff Jernigan is an internationally-recognized business and ministry leader who has served organizations in 38 countries worldwide. He is the Senior Vice President and Ministry Team Leader of FaithSearch Partners, the nation’s premier executive search firm focused exclusively on identifying and recruiting leaders for faith-based healthcare, ministry and educational organizations. An expert consultant, Dr. Jernigan specializes in organizational growth and change, business and ministry development, performance improvement, strategic planning, character enrichment and leadership building. Dr. Jernigan has been featured by Church Executive Magazine for excellence in leadership and is the author of 11 books as well as numerous professional papers. His credentials include ordination in the Evangelical Friends Church as well as the Southern Baptist Convention. He is a Board Certified Counselor with the American Association of Christian Counselors and holds graduate degrees from Dallas Theological Seminary and the Newburgh Theological Seminary.


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FaithSearch Partners is one of the nation’s leading retained executive search firms and is the only one of its kind focused exclusively on identifying and recruiting leaders for faith-based hospitals and healthcare systems as well as faith-based educational institutions, churches and parachurch organizations. In 2012 Modern Healthcare named the FaithSearch Partners among the top 15 retained healthcare executive search firms in the U.S. by revenue. Combined, members of the firm have successfully managed more than 450 executive-level searches and consulting engagements for numerous high-profile faith-based organizations across the country. Its website can be found at


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