In Norman Rockwell's vision, physicians were respected and long-standing members of a community. How much resemblance Rockwell's depictions bore to reality has always been debated, but Martin/Fletcher finds that certain demographic and economic factors are breaking bonds that once kept physicians in hospitals and/or municipalities for years.
The consultant says that about 38 percent of the nation's 740,000 physicians are 50 or older — that's one of the reasons that health care faces a coming shortage of doctors. Martin/Fletcher estimates that 250,000 will be needed over the next 10 years to replace those lost to retirement, shrinking enrollments in medical schools, and departure from the profession due to skyrocketing medical malpractice costs. Martin/Fletcher surveyed 5,200 hospitals, clinics, and physician practices across the country to find out what specialties are in strong demand. It is important to note that these averages can vary greatly by region.
Martin/Fletcher concludes: "It continues to become more challenging to find physicians to become part of a practice and community." One way respondents meet that challenge is to pay for relocation costs, which all respondents do. "Signing bonuses" also help, and 90 percent of respondents award them as well.
|'Signing bonus' amount|
SOURCE: ANNUAL PHYSICIAN COMPENSATION AND BENEFITS REPORT, MAY, 2002, MARTIN/FLETCHER