Survey shows starting salaries continue to rise for new physicians


The ongoing physician shortage and the aging of the baby boomer population continue to drive demand and starting salaries upward for primary care and specialty physicians alike, according to a survey released by Merritt Hawkins, a physician search and consulting firm.

To compile the report, the firm looked at its recruitment and staffing data across 3,342 permanent physician and advanced practitioner search assignments from April 1, 2015, to March 31, 2016. Despite concerns about the impact of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act on small practices, the survey noted an uptick in recruiting assignments for solo practice settings, which rose 4 percent above the previous year.

Other key findings from the report:

  • The most-requested recruiting assignments involved family physicians, which likely accounts for the 13 percent increase in starting salaries for that specialty year over year, according to the firm.
  • Starting salaries rose year over year in 18 of the 20 specialties tracked, including double-digit bumps for family medicine, psychiatry, obstetrics-gynecology, dermatology, urology, otolaryngology, general surgery and non-invasive cardiology.
  • Value- and quality-based care metrics continue to account for a greater share of physician bonuses, rising to 32 percent of 2016 incentive payments related to value- or quality-based metrics, up from 23 percent in 2015.
  • Demand for physicians is not confined to rural areas hit hardest by the physician shortage, as the firm placed more than half of its doctors in communities with populations of 100,000 or higher.
  • Demand among specialists remains broad-based outside the primary care arena as well. Merritt Hawkins noted steady demand for orthopedic surgeons, neurologists, dermatologists, gastroenterologists, urologists, pulmonologists and cardiologists, among others, with the need likely driven by the aging patient population.

To learn more:
- here's the survey