Primary Care physicians are the backbone of the American healthcare system. Indeed, studies show that states with a higher ratio of primary care physicians have better health and lower rates of mortality (per National Institutes of Health): Patients who regularly see a primary care physician also have lower health costs than those without one.
This primary care physician workforce is best positioned to meet the needs of our population, yet an alarming shortage of primary care physicians is looming: the Association of American Medical Colleges predicts a shortage of between 21,100 and 55,200 primary care physicians by 2032. The major factor driving demand for physicians continues to be a growing, aging population. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the nation’s population is estimated to grow by more than 10% by 2032, with those over age 65 increasing by 48%.
Family Medicine is the most-requested specialty for recruiting assignments (per a 2018 report from physician search firm Merritt Hawkins). Compensation continues to influence where family medicine physicians choose to live. Overall, primary care physicians saw a 3.4% increase from 2017 to 2018, but family medicine is among the lowest for average annual compensation: $242,352 per Doximity’s 3rd Annual Compensation Report. Where doctors ultimately decide to practice often starts at med school: typically, where a medical student trains has long-been an influence on their choice of specialty.
Despite hospitals and healthcare systems calling for more primary care doctors though, graduates of U.S. medical schools are becoming less likely to specialize in primary care. In fact, the percentage of primary care positions filled by fourth-year medical students was the lowest on record this year, according to the Washington Post. In fact, the 2019 Match report saw 8,116 internal medicine positions offered – the highest number on record and the most positions offered within any specialty – but only 41.5 percent were filled by seniors pursuing M.D.s from U.S. medical schools.
The job market for doctors is booming, so how do you differentiate yourself while you’re recruiting valuable primary care candidates? Here are some things you should know.
- Sell the location, the community, and the culture. There are plenty of good places to live, but sometimes a higher salary doesn’t make up for a location that isn’t right for a candidate or their family. Physicians tend to accept jobs that “feel right,” so know the market demographics, understand the local cost of living, and know how to sell everything from local schools (for candidates with children), to recreational and cultural activities, to job prospects for partners and spouses.
- Do your research before you reach out! Don’t insult the intelligence of prospective candidates by not having a firm understanding of what they do and how they’ll contribute.
- Rely on physicians who already work with you or at your facility. Physicians or candidates you already know are one of the best sources for finding new physicians. Their experience with you or your facility is a great way to judge a candidate’s suitability, plus they’re a reflection of your culture.
- Offer incentives. The most common recruiting incentives organizations are using to pull in top talent include:
- Health benefits Malpractice insurance
- Relocation allowance
- Continuing medical education (CME) allowance
- Educational loan repayment
- Retirement/401K plan
- Salary plus production bonus
- Educational loan repayment
- Signing bonus: The average signing bonus for all physicians is $33,707 (per Merritt Hawkins).
5. Pick up the phone! The email inboxes of physicians are bombarded with recruiting messages (and more). Newly minted doctors are often recruited like they’re sports stars courting a Nike deal, so get personal and build a relationship.
The opportunities to make a difference in primary care are endless. What are you doing to recruit these candidates? Doctors are digital omnivores, so this guide to social recruiting might help you step up your primary care recruiting game, too.