Signing bonuses on the rise--and not just for physicians

Signing bonuses increased for both physicians and non-physician healthcare providers in 2014, according to a new report from the physician search consultancy The Medicus Firm.

Half of all non-physician providers were offered a signing bonus in 2014, a dramatic increase from the 11 percent offered one in 2013. The average amount for physician assistants' (PAs) and nurse practitioners' (NPs) signing bonuses increased as well, going from $3,000 in 2013 to $7,500 in 2014.

Moreover, while the highest signing bonus issued to a Medicus Firm doctor before 2013 was $75,000, the highest issued in 2014 was $200,000, Jim Stone, president of the staffing agency, said in the announcement. In 2015, the firm has already placed a New England primary care physician with a $100,000 signing bonus, Stone added.

A 2013 survey by the Medicus Firm found signing bonuses have gone from a perk of recruitment to an expectation, with more than 85 percent of its searches resulting in an offer involving a signing bonus.

"Furthermore, the sharp rise in the utilization of signing bonuses for recruiting Physician Assistants, combined with increased placement rate of PAs among our client base, also indicates that competition for non-physician providers has intensified in the wake of the ACA [Affordable Care Act], the trend towards [accountable care organizations] and other team-care focused healthcare initiatives," Stone said in a statement to reporters.

Texas remained the top state for placement, unchanged from 2013, but California replaced Ohio in the number two slot, with Ohio falling from second in 2013 to third in 2014.

The report also noted several other healthcare employment trends, including:

  • PA and NP placements are up, increasing from less than 1.5 percent in 2012 to 6.34 percent in 2014, and PA placements were last year's fifth most-placed provider, up from 2013, when they ranked sixth.
  • Primary care providers continue to be the most-placed specialties, with family practice providers, hospitalists and internal medicine providers ranked first to third.
  • Placement in urban/metro areas increased nearly 9 percent, going from 25 percent in 2013 to 33.66 percent last year. This is particularly noteworthy, Stone said, because of a long-held perception that urban and metropolitan hospitals do not need search firms to find talent.

To learn more:
- read the announcement