Employment: The Demand for Primary-Care Physicians Is Growing-But Not the Money

Article excerpt

Concerned about your employment prospects? Rest easy. No need to worry about last year's AMA report of a 7 percent unemployment rate for doctors six months out of residency. New doctors who initially have trouble finding jobs don't remain unemployed for long.

And don't worry that money-losing hospital systems and practice management companies will divest themselves of practices. What's more likely say our experts, is that doctors will leave by choice at contract-renewal time. Alternatively, hospitals may try to wiggle off the hook financially by restructuring their deals with physicians, says Peter Boland, a Berkeley, CA, managed-care analyst. "Doctors who do lose their jobs will simply move across town into different venues:' says Sue Cejka, president of Cejka & Company in St. Louis, a leading physician recruiter. "Primary-care physicians remain in short supply" she explains.

The picture is brighter when you look at not-for-profit hospitals. Spurred by a relaxation in IRS rules for physician recruitment, they're increasingly recruiting primary-care doctors to start or step into practices that the hospitals bankroll. (This financial help typically lasts for the first two years.) In the past, hospitals couldn't recruit local doctors, and they couldn't offer financial inducements that were competitive with those offered by forprofit hospitals. …