MGMA e-Source, Feb. 22, 2011
Recruiting and paying new docs: Know where your practice stands in the marketplace
By Matthew Vuletich, MGMA senior writer/editor
Last summer, 53.4 percent of you told us that recruiting physicians was one of your top challenges, according to MGMA 2010 Medical Practice Today: What Members Have to Say research. Perhaps those of you in primary care practices dread the recruitment process more than your peers in specialty practices because of the shortage of physicians. And it might seem like those of you in single-specialty practices are at a disadvantage when competing with multispecialty practices but take heart: MGMA data show that reality might not match perception in several areas.
Shortage? Haven't noticed it – yet
We've heard for a number of years now that a shortage of primary care physicians is imminent, if not already dragging down recruitment efforts. Not so fast. The MGMA In-House Recruitment Benchmarking Survey: 2010 Report Based on 2008 data indicate just the opposite.
"The shortage of primary care physicians became an increasingly popular topic over the past few years," the survey notes. "However, in-house recruiting professionals took only 180 days to fill internal medicine and family practice positions. The median [number of] days to fill a pediatric position was 150 … Given that recruiters took a year on average to fill positions in other specialties, primary care doctors were still generally accessible to the reporting organizations."
Another welcome bit of news from the report is that the cost of searches declined, according to the report – except for surgical subspecialist services, which jumped by almost 29 percent. "An increase in the number of positions filled via Internet job boards may explain the overall decline in search costs," the survey report points out. "[R]espondents identified Internet job boards as their preferred method of searching for a provider."
How much is that doctor in the window?
To compete in the recruiting market place, you have to make sure the compensation package you offer is competitive. The median first-year overall guaranteed compensation level for a primary care doctor was $160,000, according to the MGMA Physician Placement and Starting Salary Survey: 2010 Report Based on 2009 Data. It tallied $230,000 for specialists.
Newbie and "recycled" physicians' compensation packages in single-specialty groups did not always trail those offered by multispecialty groups. In fact, primary care doctors made $4,656 more per year in single-specialty practices than their peers in multispecialty practices. Specialists made more – almost $12,500 more – in multispecialty groups than their colleagues in single-specialty practices, according to the report.
Back to that primary care shortage
While recruiters may not have taken as long to fill primary care openings as specialty care openings, the impending shortfall of primary care doctors might have appeared in compensation data. According to the placement and starting salary report, overall first-year compensation for primary care physicians rose 14.3 percent in multispecialty groups since 2006 and 17.4 percent in single-specialty groups during the same time period. This dwarfs the 3.2 percent bump over the same time period for specialists in multispecialty practices. Compensation for new specialists in single-specialty groups actually declined 2.1 percent since 2006.
Perhaps the knowledge that a shortfall lingers on the horizon has practices sweetening their compensation packages for new primary care physicians and those just out of residency.