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Why advanced clinicians are an increasingly valuable commodity, and how to attract them

Signing bonuses continue to rise in popularity as a recruiting tool, and are most prevalent among younger clinicians, survey says.

Beth Jones Sanborn, Managing Editor

Hospital and medical practice leaders would do well to ramp up recruiting when it comes to hiring advanced clinicians and consider strategies and perks like signing bonuses to attract talent, especially when it comes to younger professionals. That's according to survey findings from healthcare employment and resource agency PracticeMatch.

Demand for advanced practice clinicians is soaring as physician shortages loom, especially in primary care. According to the survey, which polled nearly 1,100 nurse practitioners and physician assistants in March, these advanced clinicians reported widespread job satisfaction, with only one in five saying they were unsatisfied in their careers.

Salaries are rising as well. NPs reported a 6.6 percent increase in compensation over last year, with an average salary of $113,900. PAs reported an average salary of $117,000, a jump of 4.9 percent from last year.  Finally, 8 percent of PAs said they actually earned more than $150,000. So did 5 percent of NPs.

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Competitive income was certainly linked to satisfaction, with 86 percent of PAs and NPs reporting some degree of satisfaction with their income level.

"Advanced practice clinicians such as NPs and PAs continue to be in extremely high demand among healthcare employers, especially in light of ongoing physician shortages," states Mike York, chief executive officer of PracticeMatch. "Our annual survey shows that they are enjoying increased salary levels and job satisfaction rates that confirm how highly valued their clinical services are in a variety of medical settings, including hospitals and private groups across the country."

As demand for these clinicians ramps up, recruiters and employers are looking for ways to attract talent. Signing bonuses continue to be a successful tool for landing new clinicians, as 12  percent of respondents said they got a sign-on bonus for their current role, up slightly from 11 percent last year.

A notable trend was that respondents who are newer to the workforce were more likely to get a signing bonus than more tenured NPs and PAs as signing bonuses have recently become more common for these practitioners. Fifteen percent of PAs and NPs with less than ten years of experience were paid a signing bonus, whereas only 8 percent with more than 20 years of experience got one. The average bonus paid was $7,200, the survey said.

"Knowledge of current recruiting and compensation trends can help healthcare employers optimize their recruiting strategies to attract and retain top talent among advanced practice clinicians," York said.

Hospitals and practice leader looking to hire more advanced clinicians should pay attention to these trends. Advanced clinicians have been heralded as a means to boost access to care through increased productivity and patients seen as well as a solution to bridging gaps in physician staffing. Knowing that they are in high demand and that such perks as signing bonuses will help attract talent should shape recruitment strategies. Leaders might want to consider other perks, such as increased vacation time and wellness benefits like compensation for fitness facilities and classes. It is crucial to be innovative in making the facility the most attractive option for a clinician to start, or continue, their career.

Twitter: @BethJSanborn
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