Few topics in the field of healthcare philanthropy garner as much attention as physician giving. The conversation – and far too often our actual approach to the medical staff – goes something like, “They’re on staff. They make a lot of money. Why don’t they give us some?”
Today’s physicians face many challenges and demands. Like hospitals, all are confronting increased scrutiny, uncertainty, and quality and productivity metrics. Declining reimbursement has impacted their revenue. They may be on staff at more than one hospital. Many still fulfill mandatory on-call obligations, and deliver some uncompensated care. Our top docs are frequently tapped for leadership roles within the institution, asked to chair departments, serve on various medical committees, and give even more of their time.
The profile of today’s doctor is evolving. “He” is more likely to be a female, employed, and with a completely different set of values and work-life expectations than “her” older colleagues. She is far more likely to be employed or contracted, as opposed to the independent entrepreneur of yesterday.
A survey by the American College of Physician Executives found doctors struggling with low morale, family and marital discord, burnout, depression, substance abuse, and thoughts of suicide. Nearly 60% considered leaving the profession for those reasons. Physicians cited low reimbursement rates, loss of autonomy and control, bureaucratic red tape, patient overload, loss of respect, uncertainty, and the medical malpractice environment as contributing factors.
We owe it to our medical staff – and our development program – to understand the shifting environment challenging today’s physicians. Just as with our hospital employees, the local business community, and other important constituencies; our strategy to engage doctors must take into account these obstacles and issues, and seek ways to collaborate.
Take advantage of doctors’ tremendous and unique potential to be advocates, experts, and connectors. Position them to talk about the important work they do, and the impact of the project you’re working to fund.
Don’t miss opportunities to recognize their many other contributions. (Hint: think doctor’s day and gifts of tribute.) Help them understand just how important and influential their leadership can be, and enlist their help identifying and cultivating grateful patients.
Naturally, along the way, remain on the lookout for that extraordinary physician champion, capable of rising above the politics, referral patterns, and financial turmoil, to effectively cultivate and solicit his or her colleagues. All of our prospective donors – including physicians – deserve the courtesy and deference of a personal, peer-to-peer solicitation. However, recruiting these busy clinicians to a traditional volunteer role, with the expectation that they will comfortably cultivate and close their colleagues, is more than a bit presumptuous.
Invest the time and resources to effectively engage your medical staff. The potential rewards are great.
Join the Pride Development Institute, online, at 11:00 AM (EDT) for a one-hour webinar, featuring special guest presenter, Dr. Roger Longenderfer, retired CEO of Pinnacle Health in Harrisburg, PA, and a member of Pride Philanthropy’s Executive Board. Click here for details.
T. Christian Rollins, MBA, CFRE
Executive Vice President