Physician job trends: Rising salaries, hot specialties and high-demand regions

Male doctor in white lab coat
Boston saw a 78% increase in physician jobs this year. (Getty/Saklakova)

Doctors looking to find the best job market for their skills should head to Boston or go into geriatrics, according to a new report.

Doximity, a social network for doctors, conducted a study to pinpoint top growth markets for U.S. physicians between 2016 and 2017 and also evaluated how many open physician positions were advertised on its network in large metropolitan areas in 2016 and 2017. 

Here are some of the findings:

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Best cities for physician demand

The metro area with the highest demand for doctors and the percentage of job growth? Hospital-rich Boston, where there was a 72% growth in doctors’ jobs, according to the report.

San Francisco was second on the list with a 42% job growth, but the report found that job growth can vary widely even within hot regions. Compared to San Francisco, Los Angeles had only a 1% growth in jobs, but it was still number 10 on the list.

Most in-demand medical specialties

Given an aging population, the greatest demand in physician specialties was in the field of geriatrics, where there was a 164% increase in job advertisements on the site.

The study found that job postings have grown in most medical specialties, including a 23% increase in demand for cardiologists, which was number 10 on the list.

Compensation continues to increase

Nationally, compensation for U.S. doctors continued to increase, growing by 5.1%. On a list of the top 10 metropolitan areas where pay increased, growth ranged from 16% in San Francisco to 7% in Boston.

Overall, where there was a great demand for doctors, compensation also grew, suggesting the growth in compensation could be due to existing shortages of doctors, the study said.

Six metro areas—Boston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Seattle—were within the top 10 for both job growth and compensation.

But in some areas, salaries dropped

Despite the overall trend of increased pay, there were some areas of the country where doctors saw either a decline in compensation or no change. The greatest drop occurred in Phoenix, where there was a 9% decline in compensation offered to doctors.

The study speculated that recent changes in the market were factors, including a mix of insurer exits from the Affordable Care Act exchange, accountable care organizations and other low-cost providers impacting revenue, physician practices bring bought by hospitals and insurers growing and negotiating more strongly.

The outlook for 2018 is sunny

The study predicted another strong year for physician jobs in 2018. “Overall, strong employment growth should continue for physicians, as well as a general uptrend in physician compensation,” the report said.