Family practice, internal medicine physicians are in demand; signing bonuses at an all-time high

Doctors talking
Primary care doctors are in top demand by healthcare organizations looking to hire. (Image: Getty/wmiami)

Primary care doctors topped the list of most-in-demand physicians in 2017, making up 39% of physician placements made by The Medicus Firm last year. That's up a few points from 35% in the previous year, according to the national healthcare recruiting company’s 2018 report.

The report is a summary of the firm’s 2017 placements at more than 250 hospitals and healthcare employers in 52 specialties, including nurse practitioners and physicians assistants, in 42 states.

Here are some of the key findings:

Top specialties

Family practice physicians were the most frequently placed specialty for the fourth consecutive year. The second-most frequently placed specialty was internal medicine, up from third place the previous year. Hospitalists jumped to third most frequently placed specialty, up from fifth place. A study last year found that many types of surgical, diagnostic and internal medicine specialists will soon be in as short supply as primary care doctors.

Bigger signing bonuses

The average signing bonus for physicians reached an all-time high in 2017, according to the report. Signing bonuses have become more popular and grown in size over the past few years, ranging from the low $20,000s in 2011 to average almost $30,000 in 2017. Signing bonuses ranged from $4,000 to a high of $200,000 in 2017.

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

Increase in osteopathic placements

Placement of doctors of osteopathic medicine (DOs) increased to nearly 15% in 2017, from 8% in 2016. Osteopathic medicine is one of the fastest-growing healthcare professions in the country—with both an increase in the number of doctors practicing in the U.S. and in the number of medical students, as Fierce Healthcare reported.

RELATED: Osteopathic profession sees increase in number of doctors, medical students

Hospital employment continues to dominate hiring

Hospitals accounted for almost 57% of the total 2017 placements, followed by group practices at 33%. Also, 88% of physicians placed in 2017 were employed, primarily by hospitals and group practices.

RELATED: 1 in 4 physician practices now hospital-owned

The number of independent physician practices has declined and one study predicts only one in three doctors will remain in private practice.

Hospital ownership of physician practices has increased in both urban and rural areas of the country, but those in rural areas are being acquired at a dramatic rate.

The Medicus report also found that 9% of physicians accepted a net income guarantee and 1.8% accepted a gross income guarantee.