Physician job market continues to be an evolving entity

By Jonathan Ford Hughes
Published December 16, 2021

Key Takeaways

The average HCP looking to switch jobs in 2021 wanted more money and a position based in a suburban area in the southeast. That’s according to a new survey from the Medicus Firm: The 2021 Provider Practice and Relocation Preference Report.

More than 1,200 doctors and advanced practice providers responded to the survey in August of this year. Compared with 2020, the number of HCPs changing jobs because they wanted a new location decreased by 11%. Those citing income as the reason for their move increased by 4%. 

The complete breakdown of motivations is as follows:

  • Income: 33%

  • Schedule: 18%

  • Location: 12%

  • Retirement: 10%

  • Culture/Work Environment: 9%

  • Desire to Leave Clinical Medicine for Non-Clinical Job: 7%

  • Administration Issues: 5%

  • Other: 4%

  • COVID-19: 1%

Negotiation skills will also serve physicians seeking new roles for higher pay. Recently, MDLinx interviewed a Medicus Firm physician recruiter who said doctors should first do some homework. According to the recruiter, doctors must examine the compensation package in its entirety—including pay and benefits. Find out what the normal salary ranges are at your potential new employer. Then, factor in how long you intend to stay. You can learn more about the negotiating tactics here.

The survey also offers some insights on current physician compensation levels. The majority of respondents believed their income would stay the same (42%) or increase slightly (35%). Among the factors that limited income in 2021, 20% of respondents pointed to COVID-19.

Location, location

Among those who rated relocation as their primary motivator, suburban locales (32%) had a slight edge over major metropolitan areas (27%). Lagging in desired locations are small towns and rural communities (8%). According to the Medicus Firm, this is an 18% year-over-year decrease. 

Meeting the healthcare needs of Americans in rural communities is an ongoing problem. According to a 2019 article in the Journal of Environmental Health Science, compared with urban areas, rural communities have higher poverty rates, lower levels of education, insufficient transportation, greater proportions of elderly people, and generally lack access to health services. As a result, morbidity and mortality rates tend to be elevated in these communities, along with percentages of deaths from the leading causes.

The pandemic may have prompted physicians to consider relocating to rural communities, according to the Medicus Firm report. In 2019, interest in these areas increased by 20%. The report attributes the fluctuation to the pandemic, which may have forced HCPs to consider living in less populated locations.

The southeast was the clear frontrunner among the desired locations. Twenty-seven percent of respondents listed the region as their top choice. New England/Northeast came in second, attracting 11% of those weighing a move. The Pacific region (11%) slightly edged out the Great Lakes region (10%).

Hybrid work

In the greater job market, location appears to matter less. As a disease that thrives off of proximity, the pandemic forced previously reluctant employers to embrace remote work, for better or worse. Among the results, according to Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Index report, which incorporated the views of more than 160,000 employees, 70% of those surveyed said they want flexible work arrangements to continue. On the other hand, more than 65% indicate they want more face-to-face time in the office.

The Medicus Firm report indicates that among HCPs, there’s an appetite for the same arrangements. Among their survey’s respondents, 10% said between 21-50% of their income in 2020 came from telehealth services, which can be rendered anywhere with an internet connection. The report suggests that physician employers looking to attract talent may want to offer hybrid schedules, since schedules remain a priority for job-seekers.

Prudential’s Pulse of the American Worker report revealed some similar trends in the greater workforce. Forty-eight percent of respondents said that aside from compensation, a flexible work schedule would keep them with their current employer. Among those that left a job, 41% said they did so for better work/life balance, and one in four said they would take a pay cut to get it. 

Burnout mitigation, it would seem, isn’t a priority reserved for physicians.

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