Competition for Physicians Increases in Urban Areas

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More recruitment for physician employees occurred in urban than rural and suburban areas in 2015. Compared to all placements in 2015, nearly 37 percent were recruited in urban areas compared to 25 percent in 2013, according to a report from a national physician recruitment firm.


“The change was the latest sign of increasing competition in the healthcare industry, which underwent a historic hiring surge in 2015,” said Rich Daly from HFMA. (“Physician Recruitment Competition Spreads to Urban Areas: Analysis,” HFMA Weekly, February 26, 2016)


Physician recruitment firms have been marketing to larger communities recently compared to small, rural areas and medium-sized communities. One such firm noted that 40 percent of its physician and advanced practitioner search assignments occurred in communities of 100,000 or more.


Increasing competition for physician employees paralleled an overall hiring boom in health care. Hospitals added 172,200 positions in 2015; the industry as a whole added 474,700 jobs.


Some of the most notable trends in physician hiring highlighted in the report include:


  • 69 percent were hired as hospital employees; 25 percent as employees of physician groups; 5 percent were employed in unknown or “other” practice settings.
  • 92 percent of the 2015 placements were in employed settings; 8 percent in private practice.
  • Primary care clinicians represented 36 percent of all placements in 2015; surgical specialties 17 percent, medicine subspecialties 16 percent, and hospitalists 13 percent
  • Within primary care, family practice represented the highest volume of placements in 2015, with internal medicine ranking second.
  • Rapidly growing roles were seen for both doctors of osteopathic medicine and non-physician advanced practice providers in 2015.


The benefits of physician employment have been noted as fostering greater clinical integration, cost efficiency and enhanced quality of care. However, one recruitment expert wrote in a blog that the employment shift has brought challenges including increased turnover, decreased physician productivity, potential financial losses on some acquired physician practices and a change in the essential character of the medical profession. (“Physician Recruitment Competition Spreads to Urban Areas: Analysis,” HFMA Weekly, February 26, 2016)




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