While rumors of the death of private practice have been circulating for some time, a recent survey from recruiting firm Merritt Hawkins suggests it may be no exaggeration that the industry will see 75 percent of the nation's physicians employed by hospitals in 2014.
"Our projection reaffirms the trend that fewer and fewer doctors are going into solo practice or staying in solo practice," Travis Singleton, senior vice president with Merritt Hawkins, told CNN. "It shows that no one wants to hire a solo doctor; no one wants to be a solo doctor. This is a dying breed of physician that is quickly disappearing from the American landscape," he added.
This prediction, according to the firm, is based on the finding that only 1 percent of the 2,710 searches it performed for hospitals and physician practices in 2011 were for solo physicians, down from 22 percent in 2004.
Merritt Hawkins' Review of Physician Recruiting Incentives revealed the following additional trends in the marketplace:
- For the seventh year in a row, family physicians and general internists remained the two most requested physician search assignments. Other high-demand physicians included psychiatrists, general surgeons, emergency medicine physicians, orthopedic surgeons, obstetrician/gynecologists, pulmonologists, urologists, dermatologists and hematologists/oncologists.
- Sixty-three percent of Merritt Hawkins' search assignments in 2011/2012 featured hospital employment of the physician, up from 56 percent the previous year.
- Only 7 percent of searches for 2011/2012 featured income guarantees, while 73 percent offered salary with a production bonus, usually based on a relative value units formula.
- Five percent of 2011/2012 searches offered some form of housing allowance, up from less than 1 percent two years ago.
- Signing bonuses, relocation and continuing medical education allowances have become more of a recruiting-package staple versus serving as the occasional incentive in years past.