Healthcare Staffing Report: June 8, 2017

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Demand for family physicians pushes starting salaries upwards

Demand for family physicians is exerting upward pressure on starting salaries, according to a report released by Merritt Hawkins, the physician search division of AMN Healthcare Services Inc. (NYSE: AHS).

Merritt Hawkins’ 2017 Review of Physician and Advanced Practitioner Recruiting Incentives tracks the 3,287 physician and advanced practitioner recruiting assignments the firm conducted from April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017.

The report indicates Merritt Hawkins conducted more search assignments for family doctors in the 12 months covered by the report than for any other type of physician. Average starting salaries for family medicine physicians exceeded $200,000 for the first time in 2016, climbing to $225,000 from $199,000 in 2015.

“Emerging delivery models that reward quality and population health are driving demand for family doctors,” said Travis Singleton, senior VP of Merritt Hawkins. “Consumer preference for urgent care centers, retail clinics, community health centers, telehealth and other modes of convenient care is another key factor accelerating the recruitment of family doctors.”        

And for only the second time in the 24 years Merritt Hawkins has conducted the review, psychiatrists were second on the list of its requested recruiting assignments, reflecting a severe shortage of mental health professionals nationwide.

“Psychiatrists, particularly those willing to work in inpatient settings, are becoming next to impossible to find, and mental health is increasingly handled by other types of clinicians,” Singleton said.          

The 10 most in-demand physicians at Merritt Hawkins from April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017, and their average starting salary are:

  1. Family physicians: $231,000
  2. Psychiatrists: $263,000
  3. Internists: $257,000
  4. Obstetrician/gynecologists: $355,00
  5. Hospitalists: $264,000
  6. Emergency medicine: $349,000,
  7. Dermatologists: $421,000
  8. Radiologists: $436,000
  9. Pediatricians: $240,000
  10. Urgent care: $219,000

This year’s report indicates 55% of Merritt Hawkins’ recruiting assignments took place in cities of 100,000 or more people last year, the highest percent of searches taking place in large cities since Merritt Hawkins began tracking this number. This suggests that physician shortages are not confined to traditionally underserved rural areas but have spread to large metro centers with a comparatively high ratio of physicians-per-population, according to Singleton.

Merritt Hawkins’ 2017 Review of Physician and Advanced Practitioner Recruiting Incentives is based on Merritt Hawkins and AMN Healthcare’s permanent physician recruiting assignments.

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