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High demand for specialist doctors boosts wage growth: report

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Growing demand for specialist services is once again spurring an increase in starting salaries for specialist physicians, according to a new report from AMN Healthcare and its physician research division, Merritt Hawkins.

Demand for doctors was suppressed at the height of the pandemic, in part due to the delay or cancellation of elective procedures. But the resulting large backlog of patients, combined with an aging population and the prevalence of chronic diseases, has caused a surge in demand for doctors, the AMN said in its annual report announcement. on recruitment incentives.

“The demand for physicians and the salaries available to them have rebounded dramatically since the peak of COVID-19,” AMN Physician Permanent Placement Chairman Tom Florence said in a statement. “Virtually every hospital and major medical group in the country is looking to hire doctors.”

According to the report, orthopedic surgeons topped the list this year for the highest average starting salary among physicians and advanced practice professionals. They are offered an average of $565,000 – excluding signing bonuses and other incentives – compared to $546,000 the previous year.

Overall, the demand for specialist physicians, such as gastroenterologists, orthopedic surgeons, oncologists, pulmonologists, neurologists and psychiatrists is increasing, AMN said, while demand for primary care physicians decreased. The majority of the company’s research assignments (64%) over the previous 12 months were for medical specialists. However, only 17% involved primary care physicians; the rest were for advanced practice professionals, such as nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and certified registered nurse anesthetists.

Florence attributed this change to two factors: an aging population that needs more specialists to care for diseased internal organs as well as musculoskeletal disorders and neurological problems, and the increasing reliance on advanced practice professionals to provide primary care in practical settings.

AMN and Merritt Hawkins elaborate on this latest trend in their report, writing that “major non-traditional players have a concerted strategy to shift consumer access to healthcare toward the convenience-of-care model and away from the traditional office-based model. primary care physician, creating a new gateway to the healthcare system.”

“Instead of relying on a regular primary care doctor as a gatekeeper who directs them to additional services, such as diagnostic tests, surgery and therapy, more and more patients are using urgent care centers, retail clinics and telemedicine as the first step on their path to care,” they wrote.

Starting salaries for medical specialists have generally increased, but not always year over year, AMN and Merritt Hawkins noted in their report. COVID-19, indeed, had a chilling effect on the starting salaries of most specialists tracked for last year’s report, they noted. However, in 2022, starting salaries for most specialists have increased, even though a higher percentage of research assignments were conducted during the review period than in previous years, which may lower the average overall starting salary.

Another significant trend noted in the report is that academic medical centers (AMCs) are adding physicians. Specifically, AMN said 34% of search missions last year were conducted for AMCs. This represents an increase from 20% a year ago and 11% five years ago.

“The importance of AMCs increased during the pandemic, as they were key centers of specialized care for COVID-19 patients,” Florence said. “They are expanding their footprint both as tertiary care centers and as community care providers.”

According to the report, the top 10 starting salaries for doctors for 2021/2022 were:

1. Orthopedic surgery:

$565,000

Up 3% from $546,000 in 2020/2021

2. Interventional cardiology

$527,000

Down 16% from $611,000 in 2020/2021

3. Urology

$510,000

Up 3% from $497,000 in 2020/2021

4. Gastroenterology

$486,000

Up 7% from $453,000 in 2020/2021

5. Non-invasive cardiology

$484,000

Up 8% from $446,000 in 2020/2021

6. Radiology

$455,000

Up 12% from $401,000 in 2020/2021

7. Pulmonology

$412,000

Up 6% from $385,000 in 2020/2021

8. Hematology/oncology

$404,000

Up 5% from $385,000 in 2020/2021

9. Anesthesiology

$400,000

Up 8% from $367,000 in 2020/2021

10. Maxillofacial oral surgery

$368,000

Up 5% from $349,000 in 2020/2021

  • Jennifer Henderson joined MedPage Today as a corporate and investigative writer in January 2021. She has covered New York healthcare, life sciences, and legal affairs, among other areas.