The top 10 most in-demand physician specialties and their salaries

Family physicians are in demand, which is driving up salaries.

For the 11th year in a row, the most in-demand doctors were family physicians, according to a new survey.

The demand for family physicians also continued to drive up starting salaries, according to the 14th annual review tracking physician compensation and recruiting trends by Merritt Hawkins, a physician search company. The average starting salary for family physicians is $231,000, according to the 2017 report, up from $198,000 in 2015, an increase of 17%. However, the demand did not put family physicians at the top of the salary scale, as specialists continued to draw bigger paychecks. Data were compiled based on 3,287 physician and advanced practitioner recruiting assignments by the firm from April 1, 2016, to March 31, 2017.

“Emerging delivery models that reward quality and population health are driving demand for family doctors,” said Travis Singleton, senior vice president of Merritt Hawkins, in an announcement (PDF). “Consumer preference for urgent care centers, retail clinics, community health centers, telehealth and other modes of convenient care is another key factor accelerating the recruitment of family doctors.”

RELATED: Tipping point: AMA study finds physician practice owners no longer the majority   

The other positions on the top 10 list of mostly highly recruited physicians according to a Merritt Hawkins infographic were:


Other results from the report included:

  • The shortage of psychiatrists deepened. The company conducted more searches for psychiatrists in the last year than it has in its 30-year history.

  • The use of value-based incentives increased, but physicians are still largely rewarded based on volume. Some 39% of the company’s clients that offered a production bonus based the amount in whole or in part on value-based metrics such as patient satisfaction and outcome measures, up from 32% the previous year.

  • Over 90% of physicians are recruited into employed rather than independent practice settings. The year 2016 marked a tipping point in which physician practice owners are no longer the majority, according to a survey by the American Medical Association.

  • Physician shortages are not confined to traditionally underserved rural areas, as 55% of the company’s search assignments last year took place in communities of 100,000 people or more. The Association of American Medical Colleges projects a shortage of between 40,800 and 104,900 doctors by 2030.