New physicians recruited like star athletes as shortage looms

October 19, 2011

Will this year’s A-Rod be wearing a white coat and stethoscope? Although no one is offering a $275 million contract, doctors just entering the field have become a hot commodity. A recent survey found that more than 75% of physicians in their final year of training received at least 50 job solicitations, and half got 100 or more. If you think, however, that being in demand makes newly minted physicians happy with their chosen profession, think again.

Will this year’s A-Rod be wearing a white coat and stethoscope?

Although no one is offering a $275 million contract, as the New York Yankees did for Alex Rodriquez in 2007, doctors just entering the field have become a hot commodity.

A recent survey from physician search firm Merritt Hawkins found that more than 75% of physicians in their final year of training received at least 50 job solicitations, and half got 100 or more.

“Even in a stagnant economy, new doctors are being recruited like blue-chip athletes,” says James Merritt, founder of Merritt Hawkins. “There are simply not enough physicians coming out of training to fill all the available openings.”

Projections released last year by the Association of American Medical Colleges are for   a shortage of about 63,000 doctors by 2015, with those shortages projected to grow to 91,500 by 2020 and 130,600 by 2025.

For its survey, Merritt Hawkins asked more than 300 physicians in their final year of residency how many times they had been contacted by recruiters for employment. The response: 78% said that they had received 50 or more job solicitations, and 47% said they had gotten 100 or more.

Popularity doesn’t equate to satisfaction, however. When asked whether they had their education to do over again, would they study medicine or choose another field, 28% opted for choosing another field, up 10% from 2008 when a similar question was asked. In another change from 3 years ago, 32% said they wanted to be employed by a hospital, up from 22% in the previous survey. Only 1% said they wanted to go into a solo practice.

“The days of new doctors hanging out a shingle in an independent solo practice are over,” Merritt says. “Most new doctors prefer to be employed and let a hospital or medical group handle the business end of medical practice.”

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