Market Softens for Primary Care Physicians, is More Robust for Specialists

Nurse practitioners (NPs) topped the list of most recruited providers in the annual report on physician and advanced practitioner recruiting trends produced by Merritt Hawkins, a leading medical search firm and a company of AMN Healthcare.

The 2021 Review of Physician and Advanced Practitioner Recruiting Incentives indicates that over a 12-month period, Merritt Hawkins conducted more search engagements for NPs than for any other type of provider. In the 27 prior years the report was conducted, physicians held the top spot.  For the previous 14 years, the number one position was held by family physicians.

“COVID-19 and other market forces are changing the dynamics of physician and advanced practitioner recruiting,” said Tom Florence, president of Merritt Hawkins. “NPs are coming into their own in a market that puts a premium on easy access to care and cost containment.”

According to Florence, NPs are being used to staff a growing number of urgent care centers and outpatient clinics that offer convenient access to care. They also are being recruited to provide telemedicine services that feature direct access to care givers. Younger patients, in particular, are foregoing visits to traditional, office-based primary care physicians in favor of more convenient settings, Merritt Hawkins’ report indicates, softening demand for primary care physicians.

“Primary care physicians are still a vital part of team-based care and will be increasingly responsible for coordinating the care of older patients with multiple chronic conditions,” Florence said.  “But the recruiting frenzy in primary care is over.”

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