Less than 1% of New Hires in Solo Practice

July 9, 2014

Recruiting for private practice took a huge blow last year, but there is still one private practice option that is growing in popularity, according to a new report from Merritt Hawkins.

Private practice took another blow last year. Recruiting assignments for independent practice settings were less than 10% of the total, down significantly from 45% in 2004, according to Merritt Hawkins.

The report revealed that 90% of new physician job openings were employment by hospitals, medical groups, community health centers, or other healthcare facilities.

“The employed model is almost the only choice for physicians seeking practice opportunities today,” Travis Singleton, senior vice president of Merritt Hawkins, said in a statement. “However, it also is the first choice for most physicians. Very few are seeking small, independent practices.”

According to Merritt Hawkins, the Affordable Care Act and market forces are driving the trend of physician employment as the hospital systems integrate and medical groups consolidate. Furthermore, urgent care centers and retail clinics, both of which typically employ physicians, have been thriving.

While 20% of newly hired physicians were in solo practice in 2004 that number has dropped drastically. Today, less than 1% of new hires are going into solo practice, according to Merritt Hawkins’ report.

Concierge practice is the only private practice option growing in popularity with searches tripling from 2 years ago. However, physicians are mostly seeking out employed setting to mitigate financial risks and avoid the regulations of private practice.

Value-based incentives for physicians have stalled, though. In this year’s report just a quarter of search assignments offered a production bonus with at least one value-based metric compared to 39% in 2013.

The most common benefit offered to physicians by hospitals, medical groups, and other healthcare facilities is malpractice insurance (99%), followed by health insurance (97%), retirement (94%), and disability (86%). Far fewer employers are offering educational loan forgiveness (26%) or a housing allowance (4%).

Overall, family medicine physicians were in the most demand, followed by internal medicine. As a result of accountable care organizations and medical homes, family physicians and other primary care doctors are in increased demand.

Demand is also growing sharply for physician assistants and nurse practitioners (NPs) with the number of search assignment conducted by Merritt Hawkins increasing by 320% over the last 2 years. NPs ranked 8 among the most in demand medical professions with a starting salary of $109,000.