Most new physicians more worried about job security, pay than COVID-19, survey finds

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A new survey by national physician search firm Merritt Hawkins revealed that many physicians are concerned about job prospects and financial security.

Merritt Hawkins, which is a company of healthcare staffing company AMN Healthcare, has conducted the survey periodically since 1991. The purpose of the survey is to provide insight into the career preferences and plans of physicians completing their training. The company received fewer responses this year compared to previous years, which the company stated may be due to disruptions related to COVID-19. The 2021 survey was conducted via email and sent to approximately 11,500 final-year residents. Of this number, the company received 103 responses.

Survey results showed that 45 percent of participants said COVID-19 health risks are very or somewhat concerning as they enter their first practice, compared to 93 percent who said the ability to earn a good income was very or somewhat concerning. Additionally, COVID-19 did not cause many physicians to rethink their career choices, with only 3 percent of respondents strongly agreeing that the virus caused them to rethink their choice of career.

"Medical residents appear to be taking the health risks of Covid-19 in stride," said Tom Florence, Merritt Hawkins' executive vice president. "They are more concerned about their job prospects and their financial future, given the negative impact the coronavirus has had on the healthcare industry. Typically, they are inundated with recruiting offers, but that has been less the case this year due to Covid-19."

The survey also suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to physicians receiving fewer recruiting offers than past years. Sixty-two percent of respondents received 26 or more recruiting offers this year, compared to 82 percent in 2019. Meanwhile, female physicians specifically saw more recruiting offers but expected to earn less income. Seventy percent of female residents received 26 or more recruiting offers, compared to 54 percent of male residents, but only 38 percent of female residents expected to earn $251,000 or more in their first practice, compared to 76 percent of males.

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