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It’s getting harder to find and hire doctors

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Percentage of searches filled dropped for fifth straight year in 2022, study finds

Two doctors in office shaking hands ©Nadia L/peopleimages.com-stock.sdobe.com

©Nadia L/peopleimages.com-stock.sdobe.com

The ongoing shortage of U.S. health care providers shows no signs of abating and may be getting worse, a new study reveals.

Data from the annual benchmarking report of the Association for Advancing Physician and Provider Recruitment (AAPPR) shows that the percentage of searches filled decreased in 2022 for the fifth consecutive year. It also showed that active physician searches have more than doubled since 2017.

“For the fifth year in a row, we are seeing less and less open physician positions being filled despite the number of active searches increasing,” Carey Goryl, the association’s CEO, said in an accompanying news release. “This starkly highlights the depth of the physician and provider shortage our country is facing. Every day these positions remain open is a day patients aren’t being seen and revenue is lost.”

Goryl added that while the data aren’t surprising, they demonstrate “a concerning trend for the entire health care industry and a need for collaboration…to address the challenges of physician and provider recruitment.” AAPPR says more than 150 member organizations participated in the study, and that their searches represent more than 75% of all physician searches in the U.S.

The report also included some hopeful findings, including that the number of searches to replace departing physicians declined to 44% in 2022 from 48% in 2021. It was the first time in four years such a drop had occurred. Other notable findings from the report include:

  • Primary care specialties of family medicine, internal medicine and hospital medicine are the most sought-after specialties, accounting for more than a quarter of all searches,
  • 47% of physician searches and 26% of advanced practice provider searches were still open at the end of the year,
  • The positions least likely to be filled in 2022 included surgery: plastics, geriatrics and ophthalmology,
  • Some of the longest positions to fill, defined as when a contract is signed, were in urology (344 days to contract) and neurosurgery (254 days to contract). When added to the average four months generally required for credentialing and licensing, the association notes, it’s common for organizations to be without some specialties for a year or longer.

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