Physician staffing and recruiting firm issues its 25th review of physician compensation, stemming from over 3000 searches conducted in the twelve months ended March 2018. (Merritt Hawkins Report) The focus of the report is on physicians being recruited to positions, not a general survey of compensation, so it gives a picture of what it takes to hire a doctor into a job. The most recruited positions were for family physicians with over twice the demand of any other area, expected given the focus on primary care, and the second most was for psychiatrists, also to be expected since there is enormous unmet demand for mental health services. But there is strong demand for specialists in general, as 74% of all searches were for those doctors. Nurse practitioners and physician assistants also are experiencing the strongest demand in the 25 years of the report, with nurse practitioners being the third most recruited position. 90% of searches were for employment positions and 40% were in hospital systems and 26% were in group practices. The vast majority of recruiting is for jobs in larger urban areas, 62% in cities of over 100,000 people.
The average offered salary for family practice doctors was $241,000, up from $231,000 in the last report. The range was wide, from $165,000 to $400,000. For psychiatrists the average offered starting salary was $261,000, basically flat. Nurse practitioner offers rose to $129,000 from $123,000 a year ago. Among big buck specialties, offers to radiologists averaged $371,000, down big from $436,000 a year ago and continuing a multi-year decline. Orthopedists were offered an average $533,000 also down from the year earlier, while invasive cardiologists averaged $590,000, up from the prior period. 70% of offers included a signing bonus, which averaged $33,700. 90% included a relocation allowance and almost all would pay for continuing medical education. Only 18% offered assistance in paying education loan, down from prior years. Geographically, the midwest tends to pay the most, followed by the west. In general, a strong market for primary care doctors in particular and for certain specialties, while others may be facing a decline in income.