according to physician recruitment firm Merritt Hawkins.
The company conducted 497 searches for family physicians from April 1, 2017, to March 31, 2018, marking the third straight year of decline for the specialty but still more than double the 243 searches conducted for psychiatrists, the medical specialty that was second more frequently requested for recruitment, Merritt Hawkins wrote in its 2018 Survey of Physician and Advanced Practitioners Recruiting Incentives.
Gastroenterology, with an eighth-place finish in 2017-2018, also showed strong growth by increasing 55% from the year before and rising 137% over the past 3 years. The rise of gastroenterology and radiology over the past 2 years came at the expense of pediatrics, which went from 10th in 2015-2016 to 13th this year, and neurology, which dropped from 7th to 15th, Merritt Hawkins wrote in the report, which was based on a total of 3,045 search assignments conducted in 2017-2018.
“While demand for primary care physicians remains robust, hospitals, medical groups, and other health care facilities are shifting their recruiting efforts to medical specialists,” the company wrote, noting that recruiting assignments for medical specialists have risen from 67% of all searches 3 years ago to 74% in the past year.
“It’s a matter of demographic destiny,” Travis Singleton, senior vice president of Merritt Hawkins, said in a written statement accompanying the report. “Americans are getting older, and it is medical specialists who will be taking care of our aging and ailing bodies and brains. We still need more primary care doctors, but a growing emphasis is being placed on recruiting specialists.”