Today the physician shortage in the United States is estimated to be around 40,000, and experts predict that this number will grow to over 120,000 by 2025. In Washington State, the Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA) seeks to assist its members to recruit and retain physicians with a twofold effort.
On the policy side, WSHA seeks to create an environment in which physicians can more easily practice medicine, improve access to care for all of our residents and leverage state mechanisms that can help increase the number of physicians in our state. In 2015, WSHA won two important victories in the legislature that advanced these goals. First, it secured $9.3 million in state funds for loan repayment for providers who are willing to practice in underserved areas. Second, it gained an additional $16.2 million dollars of state funds for additional residency training slots. These victories are key because they better position our members to take advantage of two trends among the physician work force that specifically impact Washington State.
The first trend is that less than 3% of graduating residents said that they desired to work in a population center of under 100,000 people. Loan repayment not only incentivizes those residents to consider those communities in Washington more favorably than those of other states, it also increases the pool of residents that would consider working in smaller communities. The second trend is that Washington has one of the best rates in the country in retaining the residents who train here. By increasing the number of resident slots in our state, we can capitalize on this trend by increasing the number of candidates who will be predisposed to stay and practice here.
To compliment efforts like these, WSHA has tasked Washington Hospital Services (WHS) to find a partner who can both keep members informed about the realities of the physician work force and effectively recruit physicians who meet our state’s specific needs.
For this task, WHS has turned to Merritt Hawkins, which has been an endorsed Industry Partner for over 10 years. Merritt Hawkins has been dedicated to informing our members of overall physician trends through white papers, such as their Annual Physician Salary Review. They also have spoken frequently at our conferences and will do so again this year at Chelan, where Kurt Mosley will present strategies and tactics for rural hospitals in recruiting. Their value on the recruiting front should not be understated. Merritt Hawkins has placed over 47 permanent physicians, generating over $73 million in revenue for our institutions over the last three years. Ninety percent of those physicians have remained in those placements for at least five years.
The real and positive impact that they have for our members is why WHS trusts Merritt Hawkins to help our members face the challenges of the physician shortage and fill their pipe lines for executive placement, permanent provider placement and recruitment, as well as temporary and locum placement.