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Potential employers more interested in hiring younger doctors

As a nationwide shortage of physicians looms, older doctors may find themselves taking a back seat to younger doctors suggests a new survey by physician recruiters, the Medicus Firm.

[See also: Wisconsin needs 100 extra doctors a year to avoid shortage crisis; Expanding scope of practice may be solution to primary care workforce shortage.]

In the survey of 1,072 physicians of varying backgrounds, specialties and experience levels, Medicus found that physician candidates who were 15 years or more out of training didn’t get nearly the same response from recruiters or potential employers as did those within 15 years of their training.

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Among the findings, doctors 16 or more years out of training applied to approximately 7.95 opportunities in the past two years and received an average of 2.12 offers while those within 15 years of their training applied to approximately 8.25 positions in the same time period and received an average of 7.88 offers.

Potential employers also responded to physician candidates who were within 15 years of their training faster than they responded to those 16 years or more from their training. Sixty-five percent of doctors within 15 years of training reported an average response time of one week or less from the time of their application but only 51 percent of doctors 16 years or more from training reported the same response time as their younger peers.

“… the reported response times and rates were not the same for all types of candidates,” Medicus concluded in its analysis of the survey responses, “suggesting that employers and recruiters may be overlooking qualified candidates based on other inconsequential candidate parameters. Whether this is happening intentionally or inadvertently is unclear.”

“ … it seems that some employers are still in the habit of looking for reasons not to hire a physician who comes to them with years of experience, rather than looking for understanding of each physician’s specific circumstances and qualifications as a candidate,” said Jim Stone, the Medicus Firm’s president. “It’s not necessarily age-based discrimination as much as it is a mindset among some employers that influences hiring decisions, more so than the candidate’s age itself does.

“For example, some potential employers mistakenly worry that an experienced physician may retire sooner, or won’t remain employed as long, for whatever reason, as a physician more recently out of training. Or there is misplaced concern that there must be something ‘wrong’ with an experienced physician who is seeking a new position. However, the reality is, physicians of all levels of experience are much more mobile than they were in past years, when it comes to their careers and changing positions. There is no guarantee that a less experienced physician will stay long-term, any more so than a more experienced physician is guaranteed to stick around. The key should be finding the best mutual fit for the physician position, which in turn increases the employer’s odds of keeping a physician on board for the long term.”

The survey also found that women physician candidates report longer response times and lower response rates than do men. When applying directly to an employer, 58 percent of women physician candidates reported receiving a response within a week; 68 percent of male physician candidates received a response in the same time period. Nearly 47 percent of women reported a response rate of 50 percent or more on submitted applications while nearly 56 percent of men reported the same response rate.

Follow HFN associate editor Stephanie Bouchard on Twitter @SBouchardHFN.