Merritt Hawkins releases 2020 review of physician recruiting incentives

August 20, 2020

Merritt Hawkins, an endorsed partner of Washington Hospital Services, has released its annual examination of the starting salaries and other incentives used to recruit physicians nationwide. This study was conducted in partnership with the Washington State Medical Association. Now in its 27th year, the firm’s Review of Physician and Advanced Practitioner Recruiting Incentives provides national benchmark data on physician recruiting incentives as well as a comprehensive analysis of the physician recruiting market.

For the 14th year in a row, family medicine was Merritt Hawkins’ most requested search engagement, according to the report, underscoring the continued demand for primary care physicians. However, specialist physicians accounted for 78 percent of the firm’s search engagements, as an aging population drives the need for more orthopedic surgeons, cardiologists, pulmonologists and other specialists.

Merritt Hawkins’ annual report tracks physician starting salaries and other incentives based on over 3,250 real world recruiting engagements. The report shows an average starting salary for family doctors of $240,000, compared to an average of $423,000 for radiologists, $464,000 for urologists, $640,000 for invasive cardiologists and $626,000 for orthopedic surgeons.

The report indicates that demand for doctors has declined since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, but predicts demand will soon rebound.

“Virtually all of the dynamics driving the physician shortage, including an aging population, an aging physician workforce and a limited supply of new physicians are still in place,” Merritt Hawkins Vice President of Strategic Alliances Kurt Mosley said. “For now, however, this is a very favorable time for those facilities that continue to recruit physicians, because an unusual number of candidates are available.”

WSHA members can obtain a copy of Merritt Hawkins’ 46-page, 2020 Review of Physician and Advanced Practitioner Recruiting Incentives by contacting Merritt Hawkins Director of Marketing Scott Sean at


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