New physicians are in high demand, with many final-year residents and fellows receiving at least 100 job solicitations, according to a survey released Tuesday by national physician search firm Merritt Hawkins.
The survey results are based on 391 responses from physicians in various specialties who were in their last year of residency or fellowship. According to the survey, 66% of physicians said they had received at least 51 job solicitations during their training, while 45% said they had received at least 100 job solicitations during their training.
This held true for physicians in primary care and specialty areas. For example, 69% of primary care physicians and 64% of surgical specialists said they received at least 51 job solicitations.
According to the survey, the number of job solicitations that physicians reported receiving has increased over the years, as just 40% of physicians in 2008 said they had received at least 51 job solicitations, compared with 66% in 2019.
According to Travis Singleton, EVP of Merritt Hawkins, "Physicians coming out of training are being recruited like blue chip athletes. There are simply not enough new doctors to go around."
The importance of location and financial security
The survey also found that physicians are less interested in practicing in rural communities, with just 1% of respondents saying they'd prefer to practice in a community with 10,000 or fewer people and 2% saying they'd prefer to practice in a community with 25,000 or fewer people.
By comparison, 65% of respondents said they'd prefer to practice in a community with at least 250,000 people. According to the survey, international medical graduates were more likely to prefer smaller communities than U.S.-born graduates.
According to the survey, geographic location was important to 77% of respondents when considering practice opportunities, up from 75% in 2017. The survey also found that a so-called "good financial package" has become increasingly important to physicians when considering practice opportunities, with 75% saying such a package is important, up from 69% in 2017.
More doctors said they'd prefer to be employed within a hospital rather than a solo practice setting, with 43% saying they'd prefer hospital employment and 2% saying they'd prefer solo practice. According to the survey, a total of 91% of respondents said they'd prefer to be employed at a medical group, hospital, or other facility than an independent private practice.
"The days of new doctors hanging out a shingle in an independent solo practice are over" Singleton said. "Most new doctors prefer to be employed rather than deal with the financial uncertainty and time demands of private practice."
However, despite what appears to be a favorable job market, the survey found that 19% of physicians said they would not choose medicine as a career if they could do their education over again.
"With high levels of physician burnout and continued uncertainty about the direction of the health care system, many doctors are under duress today," Singleton said. He added, "It is not surprising that some newly trained doctors regret their choice of a career" (Finnegan, FierceHealthcare, 5/15; Burling, The Inquirer, 5/16; Merritt Hawkins release, 5/14; Merritt Hawkins survey).
Win the war for physician talent
Physician recruitment is not a new problem. But generational changes and rising expectations for physician performance make competition for physician talent feel increasingly intense today.
Though recruitment challenges are deep-rooted, organizations can take steps to ensure their physician recruiting process is as effective as possible. Read the report to learn the four requirements for successful recruitment in today’s competitive market.