Jobs outlook remains bright for primary care physicians

The hospitals and group practices that are looking to hire doctors are recruiting with a sense of urgency.

Good news for primary care physicians (PCPs) looking for employment: Your job prospects for 2013 and beyond are excellent. The hospitals and group practices that are looking to hire doctors are recruiting with a sense of urgency.

More than two-thirds, or 77.6%, of medical group administrators plan to hire more PCPs in the next 12 months, according to the Cejka Search annual Physician Retention Survey.

“This increased demand is the result of several seismic changes we’re seeing in the healthcare industry,” says Lori Schutte, president of the St. Louis, Missouri-based physician, allied health, and healthcare executive search firm. These changes include a surge of ACOs, reform measures, and changing workforce demographics.

“All medical practices and healthcare organizations will need to assess-and most likely increase-their primary care and advanced practice staff,” she adds.

Another contributing factor to the bright jobs outlook is a critical shortage of PCPs. The Association of American Medical Colleges projected in 2010 that there would be 90,000 too few physicians by 2020, a figure that remains unchanged.

“In 2013 and 2014, medical residency programs will experience more medical school students favoring primary care,” predicts John Hawkins, senior vice president of Merritt Hawkins, a physician search and consulting firm based in Irving, Texas.

But although the number of physicians in the workforce will increase, the number of hours they work each day will decrease due to more physicians working three-quarters of the time or part time, he says.

“We are in the business of recruiting families, not just physicians,” Hawkins says. “The next generation of doctors wants to balance their personal needs with their professional needs.”

Practice mergers and acquisitions by hospitals and healthcare systems will continue in 2013. As a result, many PCPs will work for hospitals, Hawkins says.

“By 2016, 75% of all practicing physicians will be employed by hospitals or healthcare systems,” he predicts, noting that “of the physicians that Merritt Hawkins placed last year, 63% were employed by hospitals.”

Four years ago, 35% of hospitals were not employing physicians because they didn’t want to do so, he says, adding that the physician shortage leaves them no choice anymore.


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