Recession Still Colors Physicians' Reasons for Relocation

A new trend has emerged for physicians choosing to relocate, according to a study on the top motivators for physician relocation. Changes resulting from the economic downturn are still partially dictating people’s lives, the study revealed.

The American Medical Group Association and Ericksson Physician Search released its study on what factors play a role in a doctor’s decision to move and the study showed something different.

"For years, we've seen physicians move for reasons that fall within a core group of categories including geographic preference, personal life balance, quality of practice setting, and income," said Rod Arnold, chief executive officer of Ericksson Physician Search, in a statement.

In other years, it made sense that physicians were moving to be closer to family or to a more desirable climate. However, now physicians are looking for places with financial security. More than half (57%) listed income as one of the top factors they consider when looking at new employment opportunities. The change, of course, can be linked to the economic downturn.

"In an uncertain economic climate, physicians are seeking the same thing you or I would: stability," says Arnold.

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Also connected to the recent recession was another of the top factors. According to the study, 42% moved because of Significant Personal Life Changes. This category includes such changes as spousal job loss, divorce, and personal or family hardship. Many physicians said these situations were results of the recession, according to Arnold.

The economic downturn may have had an unintended good effect though, according to the study. With an uncertain economy and some still trying to pick up the pieces from four years ago, doctors are practicing longer. According to the study, one-third of America’s physicians are 55 years old or older, and if they practice longer than expected, they could help out with the country’s physician shortage.

"Many physicians we speak with who are nearing retirement age claim they're only still practicing because their retirement plans suffered during the recession," said Arnold. "They intend to embrace retirement once they rebuild their financial reserves."