Recruiter Sees ‘Pocket’ Shortages Of High-Demand Specialists

Recruiter Sees ‘Pocket’ Shortages Of High-Demand Specialists

There are regional “pocket” areas with shortages of particular specialists such as radiologists, cardiologists and orthopedists, especially in rural areas, and the shortages are pushing up pay levels, a physician recruiting firm says.

Martin, Fletcher of Irving, Texas, which also recruits nurses, pharmacists and other clinical staff, mainly for hospitals, adds that recruiting problems are spreading from rural areas to many large cities and some high-priced suburbs, where pay to new physicians has not kept pace with cost of living increases.

The firm published “low, …. average,” and “high” pay figures for the 17 specialties that it places most often (see table). This includes all primary care and hospital-based fields, as well as cardiology, general and orthopedic surgery, oncology, urology, psychiatry, neurology and ob/gyn.

Total Compensation Offered

By Specialty, 2000

Specialty Low Average High

Anesthesiology $160 $265 $350

Cardiology $170 $275 $500

Emergency medicine $120 $180 $220

Family practice $100 $150 $180

Family practice w/OB $130 $160 $210

General surgery $150 $250 $350

Hospitalist $140 $160 $200

Internal medicine $140 $170 $200

Neurology $180 $200 $250

Ob/gyn $170 $250 $400

Oncology $200 $225 $350

Orthopedic surgeq $220 $350 $687

Pathology $150 $195 $290

Pediatrics $120 $160 $185

Psychiatry $120 $150 $250

Radiology $175 $300 $500

Urology $265 $300 $350

SOURCE: Martin, Fletcher, in Irving, Texas (800) 521-0292. Figures not

based on surveys but on rough compilations of job recruitment offers and

talks with hospital and practice administrators. All figures in thousands of


Martin/Fletcher’s data are not from a survey, but are compilations from talking to hundreds of hospital and practice administrators, from regional surveys the firm has performed, and from experience in placing physicians in jobs, says Sean Endicott, a physician recruiter. The data are for the year 2000, and primarily reflect national hospital hiring trends. A limited number of experienced physicians’ deals, and non-hospital group pay levels, are reflected in the data. This is the first report on physician placement market conditions for the firm, which was founded in 1998.

Among specialties most in demand, according to Martin, Fletcher, are:

* Radiology. Two factors are driving the sharply increased workloads for radiologists: new and improved kinds of imaging, and the advent of telemedicine. But the wider use of telemedicine may eventually alleviate regional shortages of radiologists, the firm suggests.

* Orthopedics. The aging of the population is generating more need for hip replacements, knee scopes and other surgeries. Many hospitals are establishing orthopedic departments as a result.

* Anesthesiology. The expansion of surgery to serve older people is creating more need for anesthesiologists, as is the growth of pain management. Like most nonprimary specialties, anesthesiology suffered a decline in residency enrollment in the mid-1990s.

* Psychiatry. More people are seeking psychiatric care than ever before as the public is more attuned to possible mental health problems. Stronger rules are taking force requiring “parity” between physical and mental health insurance coverage.

New MDs See Strong Benefits Packages

Practically every new physician getting hired by a hospital or medical group after residency or fellowship is receiving a signing bonus, relocation allowance, employer-paid health, disability, and malpractice insurance, retirement contributions, and continuing medical education benefits, Martin, Fletcher reports.

The firm says signing bonuses across all specialties are at a low of $10,000, an average of $17,500, and a high of $50,000. It claims that 90% of all physician hires get a signing bonus.

Relocation allowances across all specialties range from $7,500 (low) to $10,000 (average), up to $25,000 or the full amount of relocation costs (high). CME allowances range from $1,500 per year (low) to $3,000 (average) up to $5,000 (high).

The most common guaranteed salary deal runs for two years, with lesser numbers running for one year or three years, the firm says.

Contact Endicott at (800) 521-0292 or

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