Hottest Job in Healthcare Still Primary Care Physician

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , August 28, 2013

"Back in the 1990s the whole issue was gatekeepers. I knew a CEO who had a sign on his desk that said 'He who retires with the most primary care doctors wins. ' And I think we are back to that."

Merritt Hawkins' 2013 Review of Physician and Advanced Practitioner Recruiting Incentives [PDF], the 20th edition of the survey, tracks the 3,097 recruiting assignments in 48 states the firm conducted from April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013. The report shows that physician recruiters handled 624 searches for family physicians. General internal medicine came in a distant second with 194 searches.

Part of the reason for the current shortage harkens back to the perception in some medical circles just a few years ago that primary care was a specialty best to be avoided unless you wanted to work long hours for less pay.

"The problem is when all of those specialties started coming up years ago we started seeing all of these doctors making all of this money and there was a bias against primary care in medical school. Some of the faculty would say to students 'you are way too smart for primary care.' We bit off our own nose in spite of our face."

The report shows that demand for some medical specialists has decreased. Radiology, which was the most requested specialty from 2001 to 2003 did not make the top 20. Anesthesiology, also a one-time top recruiting assignment, also did not make the list in 2013.

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1 comments on "Hottest Job in Healthcare Still Primary Care Physician"

J. Kuriyan (8/28/2013 at 3:40 PM)
In the early days of managed care there was the assertion that "90%" of all medical costs were routed through the PCP - making the PCP a most powerful player in managed care. Not challenging the actual percentage, the point was simply that in managed care all care is channeled through the PCP gatekeeper. This made some of the PCPs quite arrogant in their dealings with specialists in their IPAs and PHOs. Others even formed companies like PHYCOR that had only PCPs as owners. The trouble was that the trillion dollars that PCPs were indirectly responsible never really passed through the PCPs office - and there was never an opportunity to retain even a small part of it. In fact various versions of the Stark Law prohibited any self-aggrandizements. Meaning, PCPs were just tasked with referring the money out to others - clearly not a very powerful piece of the puzzle that was managed care. They continued to toil and they made very little, as before, except now they even have management responsibilities. Repeating the same program won't work any better. What is needed is a way to fully compensate PCPs for preventive care programs - and that will truly be an extra souce of income. Currently wellness programs for big companies cost in excess of $1000 per year. Compare that with what a PCP gets paid by a managed care plan - $200 per year!If part of that $1000 can be paid to a PCP then we will truly see PCPs making a decent wage. But the insurer's won't like that. They'll claim that prevention is part of what PCPs are supposed to offer - and the $200 they get covers it adequately!




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