The battle to recruit primary care physicians (PCP) — family practice, internal medicine, and pediatricians – is on. Based on the growing shortages of PCPs, this should prove to be an epic slugfest.
On one side you have health systems, hospitals, group practices and their aggressive recruiters. On the other you have graduating medical residents who lack the time or the experience to navigate the ins and outs of trying to pick a place to practice without making a costly or professionally compromising mistake that could delay or derail a promising career. For many it is a hit or miss crap shoot.
If recent experience is any sign of what could happen, consider this: 54 percent of physicians recruited to new opportunities leave within five years, according to one study reported by Select International, a Pittsburgh-based workforce consultancy. On an annual basis, physician turnover averages 8 percent. If you factor in physician assistants and nurse practitioner, the number rises to slightly more than 11 percent.
With the current physician recruitment business model, the growing shortage of PCPs, estimated to be between 25,000 to 94,000 by 2025, will only intensify problems. In the interest of transparency, my firm recruits physicians for existing clients from our executive search practice.
Make no mistake, the pressure is on health systems, hospitals, group practices and their recruiters to get their fair share of recruits from a shrinking PCP market. Having a robust portfolio of primary care physicians will probably make the difference for health systems and hospitals between winning and losing in the marketplace. With this kind of pressure, and given the financial consequences for failing, there will be those on the recruiting side who will do whatever it takes to triumph, even if it means playing fast and loose with the truth and/or federal law.
If I were a medical resident, based on what I know about the inside game, here are the five questions I would ask a potential employer or partner:
If you want to start your own practice and the hospital will offer a net income guarantee, do not get greedy. Some people call net income guarantees as day of reckoning agreements. If you take more than you can reasonably expect to earn in 24 to 36 months you may find yourself in a financial hole from which you cannot climb out. Take what you need, not what will make you financially comfortable because there will be a day of reckoning.
© 2021 John Gregory Self