It’s been a trend for several years: The demand for primary care physicians is accelerating. PCPs are family practice physicians, internists, and pediatricians. This is a “continued and sustained realignment of the physician recruiting market,” according to a recent report issued by Merritt Hawkins & Associates, a physician staffing company. The report says that the demand for primary care physicians spiked in the 1990s during the heyday of managed care, but subsequently declined, while demand for surgical and diagnostic specialists increased.
In 2008, the demand for specialists remains strong, but hospitals, medical groups, and other organizations are focusing on recruiting family physicians, general internists, general internists working as hospitalists, and pediatricians.
Several things have affected recruiting.
Many medical school graduates gravitated toward primary care residencies in the 1990s, increasing the supply. Today’s medical graduates are largely avoiding primary care, and in fact, medical school residencies in primary care report a shortfall when trying to fill their slots.
This dip in supply coincides with the renewed focus that hospitals and medical groups are putting on primary care after several years of neglect. And in the case of internal medicine, the aging of the population is also fueling demand. Hospitals and medical groups are seeing the effects and are scrambling to staff appropriately.