Doctors in Demand: New Physicians Flooded with Job Offers

John Commins, September 19, 2017

Seventy-six percent of primary care residents received 50 or more job solicitations during their medical training while 55% received 100 or more, survey data shows.

When it comes to physicians, it's definitely a sellers’ market.

Demand for medical doctors is so high that half of new doctors report receiving 100 or more job offers during training, according to a survey by Merritt Hawkins.

The Dallas-based physician search firm surveyed 926 MDs in their final year of residency and asked them about their career plans and expectations. Seventy percent of the new doctors said they received 50 or more job solicitations, while 50% said they received 100 or more solicitations.

“The search for newly trained physicians is on the verge of becoming a feeding frenzy,” said Mark Smith, president of Merritt Hawkins.  “There are simply not enough physicians coming out of training to go around.”

Job solicitations for MDs came in as phone calls, emails, and direct mail from recruiters at hospitals, medical groups and physician recruiting firms.

Primary care residents, including those in family medicine, internal medicine and pediatrics, are particularly sought after, the survey shows. Seventy-six percent of primary care residents received 50 or more job solicitations during their training while 55% received 100 or more. Psychiatrists are also in heavy demand, with 78% of psychiatry residents received 50 or more job solicitations while 48% received 100 or more.  

Other types of physicians, including surgical and diagnostic specialists, also received numerous job solicitations, though somewhat fewer than primary care and psychiatry residents. Sixty-four percent of surgical and diagnostic specialists received 50 or more job solicitations during their training, while 46% received 100 or more.              


Bad News for Rural Areas: Physicians Still Hard to Hire

Unfortunately for rural America, which already faces a severe dearth of physicians, only 1% of residents said they would prefer to practice in communities of 10,000 people or fewer and only 3% would prefer to practice in communities of 25,000 people or fewer.

The survey also shows that a majority of newly trained physicians would prefer to be employed and that few seek an independent, private practice setting. Of those seeking employment, 41% prefer employment with a hospital, while 34% prefer employment with a medical group.  Only 1% prefer a solo practice.

The availability of free time is the number one consideration of most residents, explaining in part their preference for employment, which offers more regular schedules than does private practice, the survey found.

“The days of new doctors hanging out a shingle in an independent solo practice are over,” Smith said. “Most new doctors prefer to be employed rather than deal with the financial uncertainty and time demands of private practice.”

Related: Doctors Dominate Another Highest-Paying Jobs List

Despite a welcoming job market, some new doctors are unhappy about their new profession, and 22% said that, given the option, they would have selected another field.

“With declining reimbursement, increasing paperwork, and the uncertainty of health reform, many physicians are under duress today,” Smith said.  “It is not surprising that many newly trained doctors are concerned about what awaits them.”


Student Loan Debt

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, nearly 74% of new medical school graduates had education debt in 2016. The median education debt levels for graduates rose to $190,000 in 2016 from $125,372 in 2000, adjusting for inflation.   

In a separate report issued in June, Merritt Hawkins’ 2017 Review of Physician and Advanced Practitioner Recruiting Incentives shows that demand for family physicians is exerting upward pressure on starting salaries.

The average starting salary for family physicians is $231,000, according to the 2017 report, up from $198,000 in 2015, an increase of 17%, while the average starting salary for general internists is $257,000, up from $207,000 two years ago.

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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