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Hiring Trends to Inform Your Physician Job Search

Jackson Physician Search
February 13, 2023

Even as physicians continue to be in high demand, anyone undertaking a physician job search is likely to feel some uncertainty about what the future holds. After all, the physician job market is constantly changing and varies dramatically depending on specialty, type of practice, and of course, location. It can be difficult to know what to expect in the current market. 

Jackson Physician Search recently released a 15-page report documenting the physician hiring trends observed by our Regional Vice Presidents and confirmed by our placement data. The report, Physician Recruitment Trends: Responding to a Changing Post-Pandemic Market, provides hiring organizations with information about physician supply and demand, rural healthcare challenges, and shifting cultural expectations. The goal of the report is to prepare organizations for the reality of recruiting in today’s market and propose changes they may need to make in the recruitment process in order to win physician candidates. 

While the report was written for an audience of administrators and hiring managers, an awareness of these trends may also be useful for physicians embarking on a job search. Is demand high for your specialty or subspecialty? What can you expect from employers trying to attract candidates? Keep reading for a look at recent physician hiring trends, as observed by the Jackson Physician Search Regional VPs. 

Primary Care Placements Increased in 2022

While primary care placements were static at Jackson Physician Search from 2020 to 2021, they increased by 24% in 2022, with OB/GYNs seeing the most growth. The need for primary care providers is especially urgent with rural organizations, so if your primary care physician job search is stalling, expand your location options to include smaller or more remote locations. Rural physician jobs typically offer less stress, more flexibility, and, recently, impressive signing bonuses.

More (and Bigger) Signing Bonuses

According to our records, nearly 3 in 4 physician job offers came with signing bonuses in 2022. In the Midwest, only 8% of placements did not have signing bonuses attached. 

“A signing bonus, once a nice-to-have part of the offer, has become the norm,” explains Tara Osseck, Regional VP of Recruitment for Jackson Physician Search’s Midwest division. “At least, for the searches we are retained for, a signing bonus is almost always part of the deal, and it’s rarely a four-figure number. Five- and six-figure signing bonuses are not unusual.”  

Many times, clients will advertise the signing bonus upfront, in the job ad, as a way of attracting attention. Of course, this happens more frequently with organizations that may struggle to attract talent without these incentives, such as those in rural areas. So, if your physician job search is focused on a major metro, this trend may not be as relevant to your search. 

Spike In Demand for Mental Health Providers and APPs

As mental health issues spike nationwide, so does the demand for mental health providers. At Jackson Physician Search, the demand for Psychiatrists, Psychologists, and Advanced Practice Providers specializing in mental health increased by 85% from 2020 to 2022. 

Our clients also sought to hire a high volume of Advanced Practice Providers. At Jackson Physician Search, the number of Nurse Practitioner placements in 2022 was four times the volume of NP placements in 2020.  

Replacing Retiring Physicians

As retirements increase, organizations are struggling to find replacements. This is especially difficult for organizations seeking to replace retiring Neurologists, Urologists, and ENTs. This is due to the fact that many physicians retiring from these specialties are considered generalists with a wide scope of practice. Meanwhile, a disproportionate number of subspecialists are coming out of training and want jobs where they can focus on their area of expertise rather than take over broad panels of patients from retiring generalists. 

If you are finishing up a fellowship in a niche area of your specialty, it is expected that you will want to find a physician job that allows you to focus on this area. However, be aware that the current need is for physicians who can do it all in terms of scope of practice. Those specialists willing to take on a wider range of cases are highly sought after and will have more physician job options.

Shifting Cultural Expectations

Physicians’ job expectations are shifting. Studies show flexibility and work-life balance are increasingly important to younger generations of physicians, but the trend can also be seen with Baby Boomer physicians, many of whom — having spent decades working 60+ hours a week — are burned out and want to scale back or have more flexible schedules as they approach retirement. For those specialties that lend themselves to telemedicine, there is an increased desire to do some, if not all, of the work remotely. 

“In the past, work-life balance was not a high priority for many physicians. They accepted that they would sacrifice family time and personal time for their patients,” says Helen Falkner, Regional VP of Recruitment for the West Region. “Physicians today are still willing to work hard, but they also want to coach their kids’ softball teams, attend the class concert, and be home and present with their families. We see it with older physicians too. Many feel they’ve done their time; they are burned out and ready to take a step back.”

Many employers are responding to these cultural shifts by offering more flexible schedules, generous time off, paid sabbaticals, medical mission opportunities, and, where possible, the chance to work from home. Organizations that may not have the resources to offer signing bonuses or above median compensation are leveraging these benefits to make their jobs more attractive. Don’t be afraid to ask a potential employer for what you need to achieve the work-life balance you want. 

How to Navigate the Physician Job Search

The physician shortage and surge in physician retirements have made recruitment and retention a priority among employers. They are leveraging every tool they have to attract candidates’ attention and persuade physicians to accept their offers. Physicians are certainly in high demand, but this doesn’t necessarily mean the physician job search is easy. It can be helpful to know the current physician hiring trends and what organizations are doing to attract talent. For additional insight into the physician job market and assistance navigating your search, reach out to the Jackson Physician Search recruitment team today or search physician jobs online now. 

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