Most In Demand Medical Specialties | AMN Healthcare

After a couple of rough years for medical practitioners, some indicators are showing that physician compensation and incentives are experiencing a healthy bounce back. This coincides with an increase in demand for physician candidates.

For instance, Medscape's 2022 Physician Compensation Report revealed that the average physician compensation increased in early 2022, compared to 2020 and 2021. Their annual report, which relies on self-reported data, surveyed more than 13,000 physicians across 29 specialties. Every specialty showed an increase in average compensation, for the first time in the report’s 11-year history.

The researchers noted that some of that jump in income was compensating for stagnant or declining income in 2020 when some practices were closed and more patients were staying home due to the COVID pandemic.

"Compensation for most physicians is trending back up as demand for physicians accelerates," James Taylor, chief operating officer of AMN Healthcare's Leadership Solutions Division, told Medscape. He added that AMN Healthcare had seen a 30 percent drop in recruiting engagements during the height of the pandemic. Then, during the fourth quarter of 2021, physician recruitment engagements hit an all-time high. 

The market for physicians has done a complete 180 over just seven or eight months,” Taylor said.

Trends in physician incentives

The Medscape report found that 57 percent of the physicians in their latest survey reported they have an incentive bonus element to their income. While a large percentage of new contracts still include physician bonus arrangements, Taylor noted that AMN Healthcare has seen a “decline in the number of clients offering a salary plus production bonus and an increase in those offering a straight salary.”

As reported in AMN Healthcare’ 2022 Review of Physician and Advanced Practitioner Recruiting Incentives, during the 2021/2022 period, 61 percent of physician candidates were offered salary with a production bonus and 4 percent were offered a guaranteed income, while 33 percent of contracts were strictly salary. 

The following data shows how physician bonus offers and contracts have changed over the last five years:

 

                  Salary Only           Salary + Bonus           Guaranteed Income            Other

2021/22             33%                          61%                               4%                     2%

2020/21             35%                         61%                               2%                     2%

2019/20             25%                          72%                             <1%                    2%

2018/19             22%                          70%                              2%                     6%

2017/18             17%                          75%                              3%                     5%

2016/17             22%                          72%                              4%                     2%     

 

Of the 1,647 candidates who were offered a production bonus in 2021/2022, the AMN Healthcare report found that 58 percent were RVU-based (volume-based using relative value units), 31 percent included bonuses based on quality measures, 22 percent were based on net collections, 5 percent related to patient encounters and 2 percent were based on gross billings. Some physician incentive packages included more than one option for earning bonuses.

Though physician incentives have traditionally been based on volume, the emphasis on healthcare reform and quality outcomes in recent years has led to an increase in physician compensation tied to quality measures. When quality measures were included as part of the physician’s production bonus, they made up 11 percent of the physician’s total compensation in 2021/2022, according to the latest report.

Other types of physician bonuses and incentives

The AMN Healthcare report showed that the vast majority of all candidates involved in job searches this past year (92 percent) were also offered a signing bonus. This was a significant increase over the previous year, when just 61 percent were offered signing bonuses. 

The average amount of a physician’s signing bonus was $31,000 with a high of $400,000 reported.

Three out of four clinicians involved in searches during 2021/2022, or 78 percent, also received a relocation allowance. The average amount offered to physicians was $10,718. The largest relocation allowance for physicians reported during the year was $30,000.

Other benefits offered to candidates included payment of continuing medical education (offered to 92 percent of candidates), educational loan forgiveness, malpractice insurance, health benefits and more.

Get the full picture on physician recruitment

For a comprehensive review of physician and advanced practice starting salaries, bonuses and other recruiting incentives, download the full AMN Healthcare report. This national sample of search assignments also provides an indication of which medical specialties are in the greatest demand, and highlights a number of key recruitment trends.

Download: 2022 Review of Physician and Advanced Practitioner Recruitment Incentives

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