Recruitment Incentives Vary Widely, Survey Finds

By Steve Barrett
Friday, November 1, 2019

Given the competition for physicians as the provider shortage intensifies, it is no surprise that most hospitals and other healthcare organizations offer potential hires a range of incentives.

Contract sweeteners run the gamut from signing bonuses to medical school loan repayment to retirement plans, but some are far more common than others, physician search firm Merritt Hawkins finds in a survey of more than 3,000 job-seeking physicians and advanced practitioners.

Almost all organizations offer malpractice insurance, healthcare benefits, and continuing medical education and relocation allowances.

Here are some of the other incentives, from most to least frequently offered in searches:

  • 401(k) or other retirement benefits — 94%
  • Production bonuses — 75%
  • Signing bonuses — 70%
  • Educational loan repayment — 18%

Among facilities that provide signing bonuses, physicians typically receive about $34,000, Merritt Hawkins found. For nurse practitioners and physician assistants, the average is about $12,000.

As in past surveys, the most frequently requested recruiting assignment was for family medicine physicians.

A 2019 study by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) suggests the U.S. could have a shortage of as many as 122,000 physicians by 2032. AAMC projects a minimum shortfall of about 47,000 physicians by that year.