Early Career
  • Advanced Practitioners Eclipse MDs as Most Recruited Providers

    Advanced practice providers — including certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs), physician assistants (PAs), and nurse practitioners (NPs) — topped the listing of the most recruited healthcare providers in Merritt Hawkins’ latest annual report on recruiting trends. These results represent a dramatic shift in the market, the report authors note, as physicians have ranked first for the past 27 years.

    The 28th edition of the annual report, issued by the national healthcare professional search and consulting firm, specified data about which healthcare practitioners are in most demand, for which practice settings practitioners are being recruited, and the nature of the financial inducements being employed to recruit them.

    The advance of the advanced practitioners

    Advanced practitioners — including certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs), physician assistants (PAs), nurse practitioners (NPs) — accounted for 18% of the company’s recruitment search engagements, an increase of 13% from 2020.

    Further, while over 60% of the year’s search engagements were for physician specialists such as psychiatrists, gastroenterologists, and radiologists, by contrast, recruitment engagements for primary care physicians clocked in at 18%.

    COVID’s role?

    Because the report spans the pandemic year, its authors anticipated and asked the obvious:  how many of the report’s findings reflect a unique global COVID crisis?

    “Part of this decline [in physician recruitment search engagements] over the last year can be attributed to the inhibiting effect COVID-19 had on physician office visits. However, this trend predates COVID-19 and is tied to a shift in primary care utilization patterns away from the traditional office-based model,” the report’s authors state.

    Starting-gate dollars

    While CRNAs shared in the recruitment surge, the report cites that only NPs and PAs saw increases in starting salary, with NPs garnering a 12% average starting salary boost, year-over-year, at $140,000.

    The MD benchmark remains noteworthy, however. According to the report, interventional cardiologists retained the highest physician average starting salary, coming in at $611,000, while pediatricians garnered the lowest average starting salary among MDs at $236,000.

    Future shock

    Particularly with the recent set-back the healthcare sector has experienced due to particularly contagious deviant COVID strains, reported physician burnout and other provider staffing shortages are rising exponentially. In addition, the report cites, MDs also face a specific demographic reality:  30% of active physicians are above 60 years of age and approaching retirement.

    In fact, the majority of physicians surveyed for the annual report expressed having experienced burnout, and more than a third reported the desire to retire within the next year. This in the face of an aging US population which will likely further tax demand on already-scarce MDs.

    “Long-term, the dynamics of physician supply and demand, including an aging population and an aging physician workforce, remain in place,” states the report.

    “Over time, physician shortages are likely to once again emerge, stimulating demand for physicians and advanced practitioners and exerting upward pressure on their starting salaries and other recruiting incentives.”

    Find more of the report’s comparative recruiting and salary details at https://www.merritthawkins.com/uploadedFiles/Merritt-Hawkins-2021-incentive-review.pdf