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Doctor shortage fuels aggressive recruiting of physicians out of residency, survey shows

Bad news for rural areas: Only 1 percent of respondents prefer to practice in communities of 10,000 people or fewer.

Beth Jones Sanborn, Managing Editor

A new survey by Merritt Hawkins brings good news for those pursuing a career as a physician. 2017 Survey of Final-Year Medical Residents shows half of new doctors got 100 or more job offers during their final year of residency training. The report highlights the demand for physicians amidst forecasted shortages.

The survey looked at the career plans and expectations of 935 physicians in their final year of residency training. While 70 percent indicated they received 50 or more job offers during their training, 50 percent got 100 or more. Those figures are the highest since Merritt Hawkins began conducting the survey in 1991. The offers came via phone, email, and direct mail from hospital recruiters, medical groups and recruiting firms.

[Also: Shift in physician workforce towards specialists fuels primary care shortage, potential spending growth]

Results showed primary care residents, including family, internal medicine and pediatrics are in especially high demand, with 76 percent of primary care residents getting 50 or more job offers during their training and 55 percent with 100 or more.

Demand for psychiatrists is also big, with 78 percent of psychiatry residents getting 50 or more offers and 48 percent with 100 or more. Surgical and diagnostic specialists, also received numerous job solicitations, though somewhat fewer than primary care and psychiatry residents.

[Also: AMA: Reversing DACA puts patient care at risk, could worsen doctor shortage]               

However, the survey brings bad news for rural areas. Only one percent of residents would prefer to practice in communities of 10,000 people or fewer and only three percent would prefer to practice in communities of 25,000 people or fewer.

Results also show most newly trained physicians prefer employment over an independent, private practice setting, with 41 percent stating a preference for hospital employment and  34 percent with a medical group.  Only one percent would prefer a solo practice setting, the survey said. Availability of free time was the number one consideration of most residents.

[Also: Boston Medical Center residents win 2016 John M. Eisenberg Award for patient safety initiative]

"The days of new doctors hanging out a shingle in an independent solo practice are over," Smith said. "Most new doctors prefer to be employed rather than deal with the financial uncertainty and time demands of private practice." 
The overall margin of error of the survey is +/- 3.2 percent as determined by statistical response experts at the University of Tennessee.

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