Psychiatrists, internal medicine doctors see biggest jumps in compensation packages

Psychiatrists are in big demand and getting big money as compensation. (jansucko/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

Physicians in two in-demand specialties—psychiatry and internal medicine—saw the biggest jumps in compensation packages offered in 2017.

Psychiatrists, the ninth most frequently placed provider by The Medicus Firm, showed the greatest jump in total average compensation package offers accepted by physicians placed in 2017, according to the national healthcare recruiting company. Those compensation packages include base salary and bonuses.

The company, which recently released a report on last year’s placements, dug deeper into the data for 2017 and looked at compensation trends for the top 10 specialties they placed.

Psychiatrists have increased in demand and the average compensation package accepted by them grew almost 10% over 2016, according to Medicus data. That was the largest year-over-year increase for any specialty in 2017.

The average total compensation package accepted by psychiatrists hired by clients of The Medicus Firm in 2017 was $319,333 (including base salary and bonuses), up from $291,000 in 2016. That represents the minimum promised income for that first year, which could fluctuate since a large portion of the total compensation package accepted is usually a one-time signing bonus.

Internal medicine physicians saw the second greatest compensation increase among physicians placed in jobs in 2017, with an 8.56% increase over 2016.

"Overall, average compensation packages accepted by newly hired physicians increased less than 2% from 2016 to 2017, across the top 10 specialties most frequently placed that year," according to Jim Stone, president of The Medicus Firm. "Therefore, the 9.74% increase in psychiatrists' compensation packages is notable."

The top specialties most frequently placed in 2017 include family medicine, internal medicine, hospitalists and gastroenterologists.

The Medicus Firm isn’t the only company seeing a shortage of psychiatrists. The demand for psychiatrists has only grown, Philip Miller, vice president of communication at Merritt Hawkins, a physician search company, recently told Fierce Healthcare.

Psychiatry is now that company’s second most in-demand specialty, trailing only family medicine on the list, he says. It was ninth on the list 10 years ago. “Inpatient psychiatry now is one of our most difficult, if not most difficult, search assignment,” Miller said.

For Medicus, psychiatrists joined the top 10 most placed specialties list in 2016 in eighth place. Demand has remained strong and the jobs have proven to be a bit more challenging for clients to recruit in recent months, the company said.

"While most studies show that doctors don't generally choose medicine for the money, money is still a strong motivator when helping a physician to choose between otherwise comparable career opportunities," Stone said.

A signing bonus can be a convincing tipping point in recruiting physicians, especially those specialists in greatest demand. Signing bonuses increased across the board for all top specialties of physicians placed in 2017, by 20% over 2016.The highest physician signing bonus recorded by The Medicus Firm for 2017 hires was $200,000, which was for a gastroenterologist.

RELATED: It’s not just primary care doctors that are in short supply, specialists are too

The information is based on provider placement records for all physicians in 50 specialties, plus nurse practitioners and physician assistants, placed by the company in 2017, at more than 250 healthcare employers and 42 states.

The firm says there are openings for psychiatrists and advanced practice clinicians in psychiatry in most states, with the most concentrated need in the mid-western states. Multiple organizations in Ohio, Missouri, Wisconsin and Nebraska are looking for these professionals. About 40%-45% of the firm’s NP and PA openings are in behavioral health/psychiatry roles.