The 2021 Job Market for Physicians: What Recruiters Should Know

Posted by Doximity TF Team

18896924_sBefore the pandemic, physician jobs were in high demand and most specialists felt they had ample opportunities in front of them. Then, with the onset of COVID-19, physician jobs saw a decrease in demand as many elective procedures and appointments came to a halt. 

The good news is that industry experts say this dip in physician vacancies due to the pandemic is temporary, and opportunities for many specialties are already trending upward. A recent study from one recruitment firm says the pandemic’s fallout could drive up demand, as the public’s physical and mental health has likely worsened since the virus hit.

It was challenging to maintain physician staffing levels even before COVID-19, thanks mainly to the growing physician shortage. When the crisis hit, nearly every hospital had to activate emergency operations or emergency preparedness plans. No matter how well-prepared a facility is for an emergency, physician vacancies can cause a derailment. The pandemic also convinced some small independent physicians that there are benefits in working for a larger practice. A significant proportion of all independent physicians are also considering selling their practice or partnering with a larger entity (per McKinsey & Company).

As early as December, the American Medical Association (AMA) predicted an increased demand in specialties including emergency medicine, critical care, pulmonology, and infectious disease. Another survey from MDLinx took factors like pay, supply and demand, and even happiness into consideration to reveal which physician specialties will have more jobs open. In the months and years ahead, primary care providers will be as essential as care coordinators, prevention advocates, and testing and vaccination sources.

In June, a poll from the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) showed most medical practices (87%) had recovered at least some patient volume since COVID-19 took hold, and almost half of those reported patient volumes to at least 75% of their pre-pandemic levels.

Today, what physicians value in a job is changing, and it’s one of the most crucial things recruiters need to know. Before the pandemic, job searches were like real estate – it was all about location, location, location. Now, there’s a shift toward lifestyle. Doctors are asking: what can my employer do for me? Is it a large medical group? Do they have enough PPE?  Can they provide childcare? We wrote earlier about hospitals and organizations that went above and beyond for healthcare workers this year. If your organization is doing something unique, let candidates know all about it!

Some specialties saw wage increases this year, too. The 2020 Doximity Physician Compensation Report shows the pandemic may have generated increased demand in some areas, leading to pay gains for specialists who treat high-risk patients—like those with severe respiratory issues, the elderly, and emergency department patients. Some of these specialties saw compensation growth of nearly 5% from 2019-2020, including Vascular Surgery, Physical Medicine/Rehab, Geriatrics, Genetics, and Emergency Medicine.

The pandemic has and will continue to shape America’s healthcare system, and guess who’s likely to feel it the most? Medical residents and fellows preparing to enter practice in the next few years. Their willingness to take a lower salary was one of the advantages of seeking a placement as a resident, per McKinsey & Company. Experienced doctors are now willing to accept less pay, and new doctors could be significantly affected.

The effect of COVID-19 on physician demand is being felt, but demand for physician services is expected to outpace supply eventually. There’s a lot of good news on the horizon for doctors and recruiters. We recently offered tips on 3 Recruitment Campaigns to Try in 2021. With clinicians clicking on Doximity Job Posts every 30 seconds, now’s the time to up your game. Join us for a free webinar on March 9, 2021 to get ideas for the best messaging strategies to use for candidates.  

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Topics: physician recruitment strategy, recruiting during COVID-19

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