The high end of physician signing bonuses reached well into six figures last year, according to the Merritt Hawkins 2021 Review of Physician and Advanced Practitioner Recruiting Incentives released Aug. 9.
While the median physician signing bonus was $29,656, physicians on the high end of the spectrum were offered $240,000 or more. While signing bonuses at the high end of the spectrum were around $140,000 more than they were in 2019-20, they were down from the 2015-16 high of $350,000.
Hospitals often are able to provide large signing bonuses, while physicians have to spend money initially to open their own practices or buy into a surgery center. Over time, physicians in independent practice tend to receive higher average compensation than physicians employed by hospitals. The Medscape Physician Compensation Report 2021 shows employed physicians earned $300,000, compared with independent physicians who earned $352,000 on average last year.
"The younger surgeons, sometimes they come out [of medical school] with a lot of debt, so that's a problem, and I understand that," said Chris Blackburn, administrator of South Kansas City Surgicenter in Overland Park, Kan. "They may not have a chunk of change to invest in a surgery center. How can I help with that? I work with bankers to help these new surgeons and get them down the road. Because long term, this is what they're going to want to do. An ASC is a good investment."
Ms. Blackburn said she also attracts surgeons to the center by promoting low surgical site infection rates, high patient satisfaction scores and quick operating room turnover times, which allow surgeons to perform more cases per day.