Monday, December 05, 2005

Physician Recruiting Marketplace - Part 2

As a member of the National Association of Physician Recruiters (, I've recently had the privilege of seeing an article prepared by Tammy Jamison, a Senior Physician & Executive Recruiter with the Lehigh Valley Hospital & Health Network in Allentown, PA. Tammy's article is filled with statistics about the physician recruiting market. I'd like to share some of her well researched details with you.

The Changing Face of Medicine
International Medical Graduates (IMG's)

Not too many years ago, by far the majority of physicians were Caucasian males born and raised in the US. Today, 27% of physicians in training are international medical school graduates (IMGs). According to the AMA, IMGs make up 25% of the total physician population in the US.

The specialties that have the highest percentages of IMGs in residency programs are:

  • Pathology - 44%
  • Internal Medicine - 40%
  • Neurology - 35%
  • Psychiatry - 35%

In 2004, women accounted for 25.2% of the physician workforce, and 41% of physicians in training programs were women. This number will increase because women make up the majority of medical school applicants for the first time in the 2003-2004 school year. It is predicted that by the year 2010, approximately 40% of US physicians will be women.

The specialties with the highest percentage of women in training are:

  • OB/GYN - 74%
  • Dermatology - 58%

The specialties with the lowest percentage of women in training are:

  • Orthopedic Surgery - 9%
  • Urology - 15%
  • Otolaryngology - 21%
Orthopedic surgery is considered one of the last "holdouts" in the field, and yet orthopedics is one of the areas of greatest need. Due to historical dearth of women in this field, we unfortunately cannot look at the female physician candidate pool to meet the needs in orthopedics in the near future.

Women are more likely to be in employed arrangements than self-employed. According to the AMS, 60% of female physicians are currently employed compared to 31% of their male counterparts. Also, female physicians on average work 25% fewer hours than male physicians.

Employer/Candidate Differing Goals

While we have shown that the face of medicine has changed in educational background and gender, there has been another less obvious change, and that is a change in attitude. Today's young physicians are just as interested in practicing good medicine as were their predecessors, but they are more interested in balancing work and free time than their predecessors were. Also, they are not as likely to spend their entire careers in the same practice.

New physicians in increasing numbers are seeking part-time or flexible hours, and this interest is not just limited to women. Recent surveys of graduating pediatric residents found 58% of the females and 15% of the males have a strong interest in part-time work. Since by far the majority of practices are seeking full-time physicians, this, too contrasts with the preferences of physician candidates.

Employers must understand the extreme change that has occurred in our culture over the past 25 years that has influenced this generation, resulting in:

  • A lack of organizational loyalty
  • Greater focus on leisure and personal activities
  • More time required with family
  • Increased occurrence of relocation for spouses' careers
  • Aversion to financial risk due to high debt load

These factors not only impact which jobs new physicians will consider, but also which specialties graduating medical students will select. Students are increasingly drawn to" controllable" specialties; such as anesthesiology, dermatology and emergency medicine. According to the National Residency Matching Program, from 1997 to 2002 the numbers of new physicians pursuing residencies in anesthesiology and dermatology have increased by 288% and 39% respectively.

Physicians who are seeking new associates are not responding well to the expectation of their potential partners. Older physicians often have the attitude that they paid their dues (for example four years to partnership), so their new associates should, as well. This is creating a significant cultural clash, and is making recruiting more challenging.

The changing face of medicine will require different strategies for practices and systems which employ physicians. The shift will be complicated and those who "can't" bridge the generations may fail in their quest to have a full complement of staff for their practices....we will learn more from Tammy's article in the next installment. For now,

Happy and healthy hiring,

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Physician Recruiting Marketplace

As a member of the National Association of Physician Recruiters (, I've recently had the privilege of seeing an article prepared by Tammy Jamison, a Senior Physician & Executive Recruiter with the Lehigh Valley Hospital & Health Network in Allentown, PA. Tammy's article is filled with statistics about the physician recruiting market. I'd like to share some of her well researched details with you.

Healthcare systems and independent group practices across the country are realizing that recruiting top quality physicians is becoming increasingly challenging. Factors creating these challenges include a shortage of available candidates, more competition for that limited number of candidates, a change in the complexion of the candidate pool, differences between what employers expect and what physicians are seeking, and economic pressures.

The key to being successful in recruiting physicians is to take a strategic approach that involves continuously analyzing the market, identifying obstacles, developing strategies to overcome those obstacles and monitoring the effectiveness of those strategies.

Candidate Shortage
We are now in the midst of a greatly debated though generally agreed upon shortage of physicians to meet current and future needs. The methodologies used for calculating supply and demand vary, but organizations such as the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the American Medical Association are taking the shortage prediction seriously. AAMC is considering expanding medical school capacity by 15%, and the American Medical Association favors increasing residency positions.

A growing body of evidence supports the viewpoint of Richard Cooper, MD, Director of the Medical College of Wisconsin Health Policy Institute, who predicts a shortage of 50,000 physicians by 2010 and 200,000 by 2020. Recent statistics provided by the National Study of Graduate Medical Education support Dr. Cooper's predictions and report that from '95 to '02 cardiology fellows declined by 27%, gastroenterology fellows declined by 19%, hematology/oncology fellows declined by 25%, and pulmonary fellows declined by 55%. Also, the American College of Cardiology reported the estimated need for cardiologists will increase by 66% by 2030, while the supply will only increase by 1% each year. Further, nearly two out of three practicing cardiologists are over the age 45.

Surveys of practicing physicians across the country have reveled widespread dissatisfaction. It is reported that as many as 30% of physicians over 50 plan to quit practicing in the next five years. While efforts are being made to increase the number of physicians for the future, practicing physicians over 50 are more likely to leave practice sooner than may be expected, depending on the economy and stock market. The American Medical Association reports that 38% of all physicians in the US are 50 years old or older.

Increased Competition for Candidates
As the need for physicians escalates, so must the efforts to recruit potential candidates. In a 2003 survey of final year residents, 43% of the residents surveyed had been contacted over 100 times about job opportunities, compared with 7% in a 2001 survey.

Today there are over 418 hospital-based physician recruiting departments with over 1,700 recruiters, and more than 750 physician recruitment firms in the US, all of which are competing for the same candidates.

I'll share more of Tammy's observations in another post (catch me to get her contact info if you'd like to contact her directly), but the overwhelming conclusion to be drawn from her statistics are that the physician shortage only emphasizes the need for recruiters and hiring authorities to be vigilent in their approach to hiring and to retention. It is crucial that those who are hiring recognize there simply aren't enough physicians to go around and that those that are available need to be considered based on their significant contribution to the communities they serve and the practices, and hospital systems they support.

More to come.

Happy Hiring and Interviewing Success,