Primary care physician salaries are rising, but how long will it last?

August 9, 2013

It’s not news that the U.S. is facing a shortage of primary care physicians. But Gibb Wingate, senior recruiting consultant for the Delta Companies, says physicians need to seize opportunities in the next few years, before that urgency begins to taper off.

 

It’s not news that the U.S. is facing a shortage of primary care physicians. But Gibb Wingate, senior recruiting consultant for the Delta Companies, says physicians need to seize opportunities in the next few years, before that urgency begins to taper off.

“Now is the time to capitalize on your value. Lock yourself into a great long-term deal,” Wingate says.

The Delta Companies’ Physician Recruiting Standard report shows that from July 2012 to June 2013, primary care accounted for 60% of the searches initiated by specialty grouping.

This year and next, physicians will see higher salaries and bigger sign-on bonuses, as facilities do whatever it takes to find new hires, Wingate says.

But when negotiating your price point, location will make all the difference. He says for example, clients in New York may offer compensation in the 20th percentile because it is such a sought-after area by physicians. In contrast, a client in Iowa is offering a $200,000 sign-on bonus because the applicants are fewer.

“When people think about where they want to move, they think Portland or Boston. They don’t think Omaha,” he says. “The coasts are over saturated, because it’s often considered a more desirable place to live. But for anyone willing to move to the Midwest, you can make about twice as much money.”

He warns that although primary care physicians remain in high demand now, he predicts that may eventually reach a breaking point in about five years, as facilities begin to rely more heavily on physician assistants and nurse practitioners to fill the gaps in care.

“The need for primary care is growing,” he says. “Where the scale could tip for physicians is when the smaller communities really start wrapping their arms around the mid-level. At some points, hospitals and practices will have to start looking for help other places.”

 

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