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Here's a look at where clinicians are flocking to new jobs and what practice settings they prefer

With metropolitan areas still popular regions for doctors and nurses, rural hospitals face challenges finding new hires.

Beth Jones Sanborn, Managing Editor

Physicians are still flocking to larger metro areas and suburban communities.  

The southeast and northeast, in fact, are the most popular regions to practice, according to the 2018 Medicus Firm Physician Practice Preference and Relocation survey. The southeast and northeast were the top two regions, but unlike past years where the margin was wider, this year the southeast edged out its northern counterpart by only six percent. The Pacific and Great Lakes regions were tied for third, having pushed down the mid-atlantic. 

These results should provide perspective for those looking to recruit physicians, both in the desirable areas and practice settings as well as those stated to be less desirable. For those in the top two desirable regions, physician practice leaders and recruiters should use their locations as selling point o bring in new talent, especially with physician shortages looming. 

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For leaders in the desired practice settings, they should look to the type of physician that had a stated preference for that environment, and perhaps focus recruiting efforts on the demographic.

For residents and fellows in training, major metro areas were the big draw for life and work with 47.7 percent, and 25 percent of clinicians in training preferred a mid-sized city. A very low 5.2 percent preferred a small city and 1.1 percent of clinicians stated a preference for a small town or rural area. 

Practicing clinicians showed a distinct lean toward suburban areas close to major metro areas, with 33.4 percent, and another 28 percent stating a preference for a major metro area. The draw dropped as the area became less urban, with 22.5 percent preferring a mid-sized city, 10 percent a small city and again, the lowest percentage by far stated a preference to live and work in a small town or rural area.

Preference for practice setting varied widely depending on whether the respondents were already practicing or were residents/fellows. For 2018, 32 percent practicing physicians preferred single specialty group practices, with the next largest share being the 20.5 percent who preferred hospital employment, and just behind that 17.4 percent said multi-specialty group practices appealed to them most. The remaining minorities were split between owning a solo practice, military or government setting, university or academic, concierge, and non-clinical or corporate.

Among trainees, university employed or academic settings were the dominant preference by far, with 34.7 percent of those respondents stating that preference. Behind that, 24 percent of residents and/or fellows said hospital employment was their preferred setting. Single and multi-specialty groups were the other shares of note.  

The findings indicate that practices and systems in rural areas have their work cut out for them in recruiting doctors to train in their institutions.

Hospitals and practices in less desirable regions, practice leaders and recruiters will want to innovate strategies to attract talent, like better perks and sign-on bonuses. Researching the region's attributes and highlighting them might help inform those looking for work about why living and working in that area is actually positive. The same theory would apply for those leaders in less desirable practice settings, as well as focusing in on the demographics that did state a stronger preference for that environment. For instance, only 17.3 percent of training physicians stated a preference for multi-specialty groups. If you want more residents and fellows to come to your practice, you might gear recruitment practices toward that demographic and its particular needs. 

Medicus polled more than 2,200 doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants for the study.

Twitter: @BethJSanborn
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