Employers, employees work both sides of the table

May 10, 2011

When it comes to physician recruiting, the dance between a potential employer and employee can be a complex one.

Key Points

EMPLOYERS: GET WHO YOU WANT

According to a 2010 survey of Association of Staff Physician Recruiters members conducted by our firm, 73% of respondents agreed that physician recruiting has become "more difficult" over the past year. Most of those surveyed (61%) reported that the cause for the increase in difficulty is due to the increased demand in relation to the supply of available physician candidates.

This increase in demand has tightened competition and created some new trends in physician recruiting. Employers must be prepared and adaptable to out-recruit competing facilities for the most desired PCPs.

But, first, it's important to look at the statistics.

RECRUITING BY THE NUMBERS

The good news is that primary care positions still can be successfully filled, particularly when executed with strategic processes in place, and when the opportunity is positioned competitively.

The bad news, however, is that recruiting PCPs will likely get tougher from this point forward.

The Association of American Medical Colleges projects that the primary care shortage is expected to quadruple and may reach unprecedented levels by the year 2020, including a projected shortage of 45,000 PCPs, the worst in 30 years. Gaining a competitive edge in this environment is key to a practice's success.

Additionally, the rate of internal medicine residents entering into primary care practices declined over the past 13 years, according to the American College of Physicians (ACP). In a March 2011 report, the ACP reported that "currently, about 20% to 25% of internal medicine residents eventually choose to specialize in general internal medicine, compared with 54% in 1998."

Where did all those other internal medicine residents go? Many of those who didn't subspecialize chose hospitalist careers, which has cut the primary care pipeline in half over the past decade or so.

About 50% of all internal medicine residents subspecialize, according to the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, and of the 50% who do not go on to subspecialize, only about half of them are choosing primary care over hospitalist careers.