New doctor recruiting on the verge of a 'feeding frenzy'

Male doctor in white lab coat
New doctors are getting lots of job offers. (Getty/Saklakova)

Amid rising demand for new doctors, 50% of 935 final-year medical residents in a recent survey said they received 100 or more recruiting offers during their training.

That was the highest percent of new doctors reporting 100 or more recruiting solicitations since Merritt Hawkins began conducting the survey in 1991.

The news that newly trained doctors are being flooded with job offers is a clear sign that demand for physicians is outpacing the supply, the national physician search company said in an email. 

“The search for newly trained physicians is on the verge of becoming a feeding frenzy,” said Mark Smith, president of Merritt Hawkins. “There are simply not enough physicians coming out of training to go around.”

Of those surveyed, 70% indicated they received 50 or more job solicitations during their training. Job solicitations came in the form of phone calls, emails and direct mail from recruiters at hospitals, medical groups and physician recruiting firms.

A report released earlier this year from the Association of American Medical Colleges show a projected shortage of between 40,800 and 104,900 doctors by 2030.

Who's most in demand? Primary care residents, including those in family medicine, internal medicine and pediatrics, are particularly sought after, the survey indicated: 66% of primary care residents received 50 or more job solicitations during their training while 55% received 100 or more job offers.

Psychiatrists also are in great demand, with 78% of psychiatry residents getting 50 or more job solicitations while 48% received 100 or more.

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Other types of physicians, including surgical and diagnostic specialists, also received numerous job offers, though somewhat fewer than primary care and psychiatry residents. Sixty-four percent of surgical and diagnostic specialists received 50 or more job solicitations during their training, while 46% received 100 or more. Here are some other survey findings:

Rural areas. The survey indicated that there's no relief in sight for rural areas of the country, which traditionally have struggled to attract physicians. Only 1% of residents would prefer to practice in communities with 10,000 or fewer people and only 3% would prefer to practice in communities of 25,000 or fewer.

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Preference for employment. A majority of those surveyed said they would prefer to be employed and that few plan to seek work in an independent, private practice setting. Of those who prefer employment, 41% said they prefer a hospital and 34% would prefer a medical group. “The days of new doctors hanging out a shingle in an independent solo practice are over. Most new doctors prefer to be employed rather than deal with the financial uncertainty and time demands of private practice,” Smith said.

Regret the choice of medicine. Many wouldn’t choose medicine if they had their career choice to do over again. Despite the favorable job market, almost one in four (22%) said they would select another field.