No More Marcus Welby--plus Other Trends in Physician Recruiting

By Phil Miller, vice president of communications for Merritt Hawkins/AMN Healthcare
August 8, 2012
- Who wants to be a solo physician today, and who wants to recruit one?  

The answer to both questions appears to be “nobody.”
Hospitals nationwide have virtually given up the search for solo physicians as a symbol of America’s tradition of independent medical practice fades from the scene.

That’s one finding of Merritt Hawkins’ new 2012 Review of Physician Recruiting Incentives. The annual Review, now in its 19th year, tracks more than 2,700 physician recruiting assignments from April 1, 2011 to March 23, 2012 that Merritt Hawkins, an AMN Healthcare company, conducted nationwide. Of these, only 28--or 1 percent--were for solo physicians. In 2004, by contrast, 20 percent of the firm’s recruitments were for solo practitioners.
Fewer and fewer physicians want to be like television’s Marcus Welby, M.D., practicing alone or with a partner, and fewer hospitals are seeking solo doctors for their communities. The reason is simple: to incorporate required technology, comply with regulations and participate in new delivery models like accountable care organizations (ACOs), physicians today almost have to be part of larger practices or be employed by hospitals. Practicing on an island is increasingly difficult today, even for those physicians who prefer solo practice.
Indeed, the 2012 Review shows that 63 percent of recent physician searches featured hospital employment of the physician, up from 56 percent last year and 11 percent in 2004. Should this trend continue, over 75 percent of newly hired physicians will be hospital employees within two years.    
The Review also tracks the average starting salaries being offered to recruit physicians in 20 specialties and includes other incentives that are customary and competitive in today’s physician recruiting market. In addition, it indicates the medical specialties that are currently in the greatest demand and the types of medical settings into which physicians are being recruited. 

Click here to download the 40-page survey and its key findings.

Phil Miller is vice president of communications for Merritt Hawkins, an AMN Healthcare company. He can be reached at