Knowledge is power: the most in-demand specialties for physician recruitment right now

Posted by Doximity TF Team

male-man-recruiter-computer-2For years now, virtually everyone in the healthcare arena has been sounding the alarm over the coming shortage of doctors. The population is growing and aging, and older people tend to require more healthcare services. It’s no surprise, then that the demand for doctors is rising faster than other professions in the US. 

That makes the job of a physician recruiter, which is already time and labor intensive, even harder. So, it helps to match your recruiting strategies to awareness of the market: know which specialties are the most in-demand and what the supply of physician candidates in those specialties looks like.

Although primary care physicians are in strong demand, a growing volume of recruitment activity is shifting toward medical specialists, accounting for 74% of most requested searches this year (up from 67% three years ago), per the per the 2018 Review of Physician and Advanced Practitioner Recruiting Incentives from Merritt Hawkins. Here are the top ten medical specialties that are most in demand now from the same survey:

  1. Family Medicine (including FP/OB)
  2. Psychiatry
  3. Nurse Practitioner
  4. Internal Medicine
  5. Radiology
  6. OB/GYN
  7. Hospitalist
  8. Gastroenterology
  9. Urgent Care
  10. Orthopedic Surgery

These specialists are frequently the most in demand because there simply aren’t enough of them to go around, but there are a number of other factors driving the demand for these medical specialties, too.

The country’s aging population  

“Specialists such as cardiologists, orthopedic surgeons, pulmonologists and others who care for the ailing organs, bones, and brains of our fastest growing patient cohort—seniors,” says Tony Singleton, EVP at Merritt Hawkins. In other words, because a large percentage of the population is aging, specialties that deal directly with medical problems occurring in aging populations are now in higher demand.

Lifestyle-related disease and behavioral health

Rising rates of obesity, diabetes, drug abuse, and mental health problems are creating a sicker patient population, the kind commonly treated by specialists.

Physicians are aging and retiring

Aging doctors and a wave of physicians expected to retire are putting an additional constraint on physician supply, especially in Psychiatry, which is facing the largest doctor shortage of any specialty. More than one-third of today’s active physicians are projected to turn 65 within the next ten years (per the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism blog.)

Yes, the competition is fierce for physician recruitment and it can be especially discouraging to find physicians in some of these specialties. Knowledge is power, though, so here are a few other tips to keep physician candidates in high-demand specialties on your radar:

  • Be Connected with doctors even if you don’t need them right now.
  • Be Realistic about what you have to offer, from the job, to the facility, to the community.
  • Be Prepared (like the Scout motto) some staffing issues you can foresee – a doctor who’s retiring or one who’s taking leave – but a sudden illness or family emergency is unexpected. Prepare for both.

Potential solutions to the physician shortage are being planned and implemented nationwide, but many are long-range because (as we all know) it takes a long, long time to become a doctor. Physicians are a hot commodity in typical years, and physician job postings are growing year over year. In fact, the physician staffing industry has grown a nearly $12 billion-dollar industry, per the same Merritt Hawkins report. Physician recruitment is a challenge, but facilities, doctors, and patients benefit from what you do.

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Topics: physician recruitment strategy, In-demand medical specialties

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