Organizations are facing an unprecedented demand for physicians, grappling with historic labor shortages for the second consecutive year, as revealed in the Internal Physician and Provider Recruitment Benchmarking Report published by the Association for Advancing Physician and Provider Recruitment.

The number of active physician searches per year has more than doubled since 2017, according to the report. Furthermore, filled searches have been decreasing for the fifth consecutive year, underscoring the competitive demand for physicians and the ongoing scarcity of available labor.

“While the data from this year’s survey is not surprising, it does highlight a concerning trend for the entire healthcare industry and a need for collaboration within our industry to address the growing challenges in physician and provider recruitment,” said Carey Goryl, CEO of AAPPR, in a press release. “For the fifth year in a row, we are seeing fewer and fewer open physician positions being filled despite the number of active searches increasing. This starkly highlights the depth of the physician and provider shortage our country is facing.”

In 2022, nearly 75% of organizations turned to search firms for assistance. This shift was attributed to a gain in the recruitment department’s budget after a decline during and after the pandemic.

The report also revealed that a significant percentage of searches remained open at the end of the year, with 47% of physician searches and 26% of advanced practice provider searches still unfilled.

Primary care specialties like family medicine, internal medicine, and hospital medicine accounted for more than a quarter of all searches.

Urology and neurosurgery were the most challenging positions to fill, defined as the time taken from contract signing. The study said that it is not uncommon for organizations to be without some specialties for a year or even longer.

On a more positive note, the report highlighted some encouraging developments in the healthcare staffing landscape. For the first time in four years, the number of physician searches to replace departing physicians decreased to 44% in 2022 from 48% in 2021, suggesting that more physicians chose to stay with their organizations in 2022 rather than seek new opportunities.

This research involved the participation of more than 150 health organizations, representing over 19,000 searches, with 60% of them specifically focused on physician recruitment.

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