Demand for radiologists nose-dives
A mere decade ago, radiologists were the belle of the physician recruiting ball, and topped the list of most requested specialists in physician search assignments. Times have changed. Merritt Hawkins has released its 2012 Review of Physician Recruiting Incentives; radiologists have dropped from the most requested specialty in 2003 to 18th in 2011-2012.

Primary care physicians topped the wish list for most hospitals, medical groups and healthcare organizations, according to the Irving, Texas-based healthcare search and consulting firm.

The survey identified high demand for a number of specialists, including: general surgeons, emergency medicine physicians, orthopedic surgeons, obstetrician/gynecologists, pulmonologists, urologists, dermatologists and hematologists/oncologists.

Psychiatrists ranked number three, behind family physicians and general internists, on the list of most requested search assignments, suggesting an acute shortage, in the 2012 review.

Hospital employment continues to show an uptick. Eight years ago, 11 percent of search assignments featured hospital employment. The percentage reached 56 percent in 2010-2011 and swelled to 63 percent in 2011-2012. Salaries have nearly nudged out income guarantees, providing further evidence of this trend.

The nature of production bonuses may be evolving. A total of 73 percent of search assignments included a production bonus, with more than half based on a relative value unit formula. However, production formulas based on quality metrics have increased from 7 percent in 2010-2011 to 35 percent in 2011-2012.

Some incentives—signing bonuses, relocation and continuing medical education allowances—remain pro forma. However, the inclusion of housing allowances is inching up. In the last two years, 5 percent of recruiting assignments have included housing allowances, up from less than 1 percent two years ago.

The report indicated demand for physicians is nearly universal, as Merritt Hawkins managed search efforts in all 50 states, and more than one-third of the assignments were located in communities with a population of more than 100,000. This suggests shortages are not limited to rural areas.  

The 2012 Review is based on the 2,710 permanent physician and advanced allied professional search assignments that Merritt Hawkins’ physician staffing companies were engaged to conduct during the 12-month period from April 1, 2011, to March 31, 2012.