"Back in the 1990s the whole issue was gatekeepers. I knew a CEO who had a sign on his desk that said 'He who retires with the most primary care doctors wins. ' And I think we are back to that."
Merritt Hawkins' 2013 Review of Physician and Advanced Practitioner Recruiting Incentives [PDF], the 20th edition of the survey, tracks the 3,097 recruiting assignments in 48 states the firm conducted from April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013. The report shows that physician recruiters handled 624 searches for family physicians. General internal medicine came in a distant second with 194 searches.
Part of the reason for the current shortage harkens back to the perception in some medical circles just a few years ago that primary care was a specialty best to be avoided unless you wanted to work long hours for less pay.
"The problem is when all of those specialties started coming up years ago we started seeing all of these doctors making all of this money and there was a bias against primary care in medical school. Some of the faculty would say to students 'you are way too smart for primary care.' We bit off our own nose in spite of our face."
The report shows that demand for some medical specialists has decreased. Radiology, which was the most requested specialty from 2001 to 2003 did not make the top 20. Anesthesiology, also a one-time top recruiting assignment, also did not make the list in 2013.