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    Chris Harrop
    Chris Harrop

    The Medical Group Management Association’s most recent MGMA Stat poll asked healthcare leaders, “Is your org planning to hire for new physician positions in 2021??”

    • 72% said yes.
    • 28% said no.

    The poll was conducted March 9, 2021, with 1,063 applicable responses.

    Among those who said “yes,” the most common physician specialties were:

    • Family medicine (31%)
    • OB/GYN (13%)
    • Orthopedics (11%)
    • Internal medicine (9%)
    • Pediatrics (8%).

    Measuring the physician market

    The market for physicians in 2021 was already defined by projected shortages in the coming years, as well as a string of unexpected retirements in the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other reasons, as noted in the March 2 MGMA Stat poll.

    With more than one in four healthcare leaders reporting an unexpected physician retirement, the potential for hiring seems much higher in 2021 than in recent memory. In an average year, approximately 6% to 7% of the physician workforce changes jobs or location, according to Jackson Physician Search (JPS).1

    As noted by Tony Stajduhar, president, JPS, in an October 2020 MGMA Connection magazine article, the process of finding the right fit for your practice can be time consuming, requiring 7.3 months on average to fill a family medicine role and 7.9 months for a surgical specialist such as a cardiologist. “Respectively, those vacancies can lead to $503,000 and $1,607,000 in lost revenue for a medical group,” Stajduhar wrote.2

    MGMA resources for physician recruitment, contracting and onboarding success

    • The MGMA Physician Employment Contracting Toolkit is composed of various checklists and other resources that are useful to any organization that is looking to contract with or employ a physician.
    • The MGMA Provider Orientation and Onboarding Toolkit is composed of a variety of checklists to help successfully onboard a new provider. There are separate ones that cover human resources, health IT, marketing and job-focused orientation, as well as ones to help the clinic manager and medical staff onboard a new provider.

    Good impressions in welcoming environments

    Your success in recruiting those physicians, regardless of specialty, is influenced by a number of specific elements in the interview process that are most important to the physicians themselves, according to Stajduhar.

    Based on JPS’ 2020 Physician Interview Experience Survey, Stajduhar wrote that “the salient aspects of the interview experience for candidates who decided to accept a position after the first interview reflect the fulfillment of their needs on three levels: informational, emotional well-being and alignment of values.” More specifically, the majority of candidates who decided to accept their jobs felt:

    • Welcomed and excited about the organization and community
    • Assured they had all information in hand and all their questions answered
    • Aligned closely with the organization’s mission and values.3

    Read more about creating a positive environment for physician interviews in the MGMA Insights article, “The power of the first impression: Delivering a winning physician interview.”

    It’s never too early to start planning for succession

    Even if you are not planning to hire a physician this year, many healthcare leaders suggest adopting a succession management plan — “a strategic process and mindset designed to ensure that a robust talent pipeline is ready for future leadership roles,” as noted in another October 2020 MGMA Connection magazine article from administrative leaders at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.4

    The authors outline a three-step succession management process: identification, assessment and development of talent (see Figure 1), with candidates assessed into four main categories of readiness/potential:

    1. Early Pipeline: Rising stars who distinguish themselves from peers and show significant leadership promise.
    2. Future Watch: Individuals who may be ready for leadership in three or more years, especially those who have previous leadership experience or have settled into the organization and are ready to develop with leadership resources, stretch assignments, roles, etc.
    3. Emerging Talent: These are individuals who may be ready for leadership in as little as one year. They proactively seek opportunities to accelerate performance to the next level and have shown ability to contribute significantly in areas other than their expertise.
    4. Ready Now: These individuals are sought out as role models, influencers or coaches and/or demonstrate leadership model behaviors with a proven track record of strong results and relationships.5

    MGMA resource

    A succession planning template is a tool used to help identify employees who have current skills — or the potential to develop skills — that can help them move up in an organization or into other positions. Succession planning is an integral part of the strategic planning process and helps mitigate risk associated with turnover, and cultivates existing talent by matching promising employees with future organizational needs.

    Do you have any best practices or success stories to share on this topic? Please let us know by emailing us at


    1. Jackson Physician Search. “Interpreting Compensation Data Sources for Physician Recruitment Success.” July 8, 2020. Available from:
    2. Stajduhar T. “On the lookout: A tight physician market in a post-COVID-19 world calls for competitive compensation.” MGMA Connection. Sept. 11, 2020. Available from:
    3. Stajduhar T. “The power of the first impression: Delivering a winning physician interview.” MGMA. Aug. 17, 2020. Available from:
    4. Engler NB, Menaker R, DeBusman GD, Rhodes LJ, Schletty AA. “Succession management: An essential strategy for organizational success.” MGMA Connection. Sept. 11, 2020. Available from:
    5. Ibid.

    Join MGMA Stat

    Our ability at MGMA to provide great resources, education and advocacy depends on a strong feedback loop with healthcare leaders. To be part of this effort, sign up for MGMA Stat and make your voice heard in our weekly polls. Sign up by texting “STAT” to 33550 or visit Polls will be sent to your phone via text message.

    Additional resources

    Chris Harrop

    Written By

    Chris Harrop

    A veteran journalist, Chris Harrop serves as managing editor of MGMA Connection magazine, MGMA Insights newsletter, MGMA Stat and several other publications across MGMA. Email him.

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