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Recruiter: Demand For Radiologists Plunges

July 25, 2012
Written by: , Filed in: Practice Management
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Demand for radiologists has plummeted during the past decade, according to the 2012 Review of Physician Recruiting Incentives from Merritt Hawkins, a physician search and consulting firm.

The survey, released earlier this month, is subtitled “An Overview of the Salaries, Bonuses, and Other Incentives Customarily Used to Recruit Physicians.” (Click here for a preview and here for more information.) The survey says it “is based on the 2,710 permanent physician and advanced allied professional search assignments that Merritt Hawkins/AMN Healthcare’s physician staffing companies were engaged to conduct during the 12-month period from April 1, 2011, to March 31, 2012.”

Among the findings:

Radiology, which was Merritt Hawkins’ most requested specialty in 2003, ranked only 18th in 2011/12.

In contrast, “Primary care physicians remain at the top of the wish list for most hospitals, medical groups and other healthcare organizations. For the seventh consecutive year, two types of primary care physicians—family physicians and general internists—were Merritt Hawkins’ two most requested physician search assignments.”

Other specialists in high demand were psychiatrists, general surgeons, emergency-medicine physicians, orthopedic surgeons, obstetrician/gynecologists, pulmonologists, urologists, dermatologists, and hematologists/oncologists.

Radiology wasn’t the only thing in sharply lower demand. “The recruitment of physicians into solo practice settings has almost entirely abated,” the report said. Just 1 percent of Merritt Hawkins’ search assignments in 2011–12 involved solo practices, down from 22 percent 11 years ago.

Instead, physicians increasingly are employed by hospitals. Among Merritt Hawkins’ 2011–12 search assignments, 63 percent involved hospital employment of the physician, up from 11 percent eight years ago.

In a related development, salaries have replaced income guarantees as the compensation model of choice. Just 7 percent of the 2011–12 search assignments featured income guarantees, down from 41 percent in 2003–04.

Other tidbits from the report:

  • 73 percent of search assignments featured a salary with production bonus.
  • The basis for calculating such bonuses is rapidly shifting from relative value units formulas to quality-based metrics. Bonuses based on the latter amounted to 35 percent of total bonuses 2011–12, compared with just 7 percent in 2010–11.
  • Demand exists in both rural and urban areas. Communities of 100,000 or more people accounted for more than a third of Merritt Hawkins’ search assignments in 2011–12.

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