Less Private Practice Jobs Available

June 10, 2011
Laura Mortkowitz

According to a new survey, the majority of physician jobs are for hospital employment with less private practice opportunities.

Private practice doctors are in less demand than ever, according to a study by Merritt Hawkins.

The 2011 Review of Physician Recruiting Incentives also revealed that the majority of job opening were for hospital employment with less and less opening for private practice doctors. More than half (56%) of the job openings were for hospitals, up 23% from five years ago. Solo practitioner jobs accounted for only 2%, down from 17% five years ago.

“The era of the independent physician who owns and runs his or her practice is fading,” Travis Singleton, senior vice president of Merritt Hawkins, said in a statement. “Doctors today are more likely to be employees working for increasingly large health systems or medical groups.”

Furthermore income guarantees are on the decline. Only 9% of search assignments featured income guarantees down from 13% last year and 21% five years ago. According to the survey, income guarantees were “traditionally used to recruit private practice physicians.”

But in keeping with the changing times, housing allowances are up as a form of recruitment. Although this incentive still only accounts for 6% of search assignments, that is up from less than 1% in previous years. The sudden interest in offering housing allowances is probably a result of the difficulty some physicians were having trying to relocate because of the state of the real estate market, according to Merritt Hawkins.

Even though health care reform promotes compensating physicians based on quality of care and cost efficiency, that doesn’t seem to be a real world application. More than 90% of job openings offered bonuses based on a more volume-based formula.

“Quality and cost rewards may be the physician compensation standards of tomorrow, but patient volume, revenue or work units remain the standards of today,” Singleton said in a statement.