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Merritt Hawkins Survey: New Physicians Getting Fewer Recruiting Offers

Female Physicians Get More Offers Than Males, But Expect to Earn Less

Physicians completing their training are getting fewer recruiting offers than in the past, most likely due to Covid-19, a new survey suggests. The survey also indicates that female physicians coming out of training receive more recruiting offers than male physicians, but expect to earn less in their first practice.

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Conducted periodically since 1991 by Merritt Hawkins, a national physician search firm and a company of AMN Healthcare, the survey examines the career choices, plans, and expectations of physicians in their final year of residency training. Key findings of the survey include:

  • Medical residents entering the job market are receiving fewer recruiting offers than in past years. Only 62% received 26 or more recruiting offers this year, compared to 82% in 2019, and 86% in 2017.
  • Despite this drop, 86% of residents received 11 or more recruiting offers during their training, indicating jobs are still available for most new physicians.
  • Female residents receive more recruiting offers than male residents. 70% of female residents said they received 26 or more recruiting offers during their training, compared to only 54% of male residents.
  • Nevertheless, female residents expect to earn less than males in their first practice. Only 38% of female residents expect to earn $251,000 or more in their first practice, compared to 76% of males.
  • Relatively few residents are concerned about Covid-19 health risks as they enter their first practice; 45% said Covid-19 health risks are very or somewhat concerning, compared to 93% who said the ability to earn a good income was very or somewhat concerning.
  • 58% of residents said they sometimes, often or always experienced feelings of burnout during their training.
  • 21% said they would not choose medicine again if they had their education and training to do over.
  • Covid-19 has not caused most residents to rethink their choice of a career. Only 3% strongly agreed that Covid-19 had caused them to rethink their choice of a career, while 49% strongly disagreed.

“Medical residents appear to be taking the health risks of Covid-19 in stride,” said Tom Florence, executive vice president with Merritt Hawkins. “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.”

Little Interest in Rural Areas

The survey conveys some bad news for rural communities, which traditionally have had a difficult time attracting physicians. None of the residents surveyed would prefer to practice in communities of 10,000 people or fewer, and only 3% would prefer to practice in communities of 25,000 people or fewer.

The survey also indicates that the plurality of newly trained physicians would prefer to be employed by a hospital, while only 1% would prefer a solo practice setting.

“The days of new doctors hanging out a shingle in an independent solo practice are over,” Florence said. “Most new doctors prefer to be employed rather than deal with the financial uncertainty and time demands of private practice.”

Survey Caveat

Merritt Hawkins’ 2021 Survey of Final-Year Medical Residents should be considered non-scientific in nature. Responses to the survey were down this year relative to previous years, possibly due to disruptions related to Covid-19. Caution should be taken when extrapolating results of the survey to all final-year medical residents.

Merritt Hawkins’ 2019 Survey of Final-Year Medical Residents can be accessed at or by calling (800) 876-0500.

About Merritt Hawkins

Merritt Hawkins is the nation’s leading physician search and consulting firm and is a company of AMN Healthcare (, the leader and innovator in healthcare workforce solutions and staffing services to healthcare facilities across the nation.

About AMN Healthcare

AMN Healthcare is the leader and innovator in total talent solutions for healthcare organizations across the nation. The Company provides access to the most comprehensive network of quality healthcare professionals through its innovative recruitment strategies and breadth of career opportunities. With insights and expertise, AMN Healthcare helps providers optimize their workforce to successfully reduce complexity, increase efficiency and improve patient outcomes. AMN total talent solutions include managed services programs, clinical and interim healthcare leaders, temporary staffing, executive search solutions, vendor management systems, recruitment process outsourcing, predictive modeling, language interpretation services, revenue cycle solutions, credentialing and other services. Clients include acute-care hospitals, community health centers and clinics, physician practice groups, retail and urgent care centers, home health facilities, schools and many other healthcare settings. AMN Healthcare is committed to fostering and maintaining a diverse team that reflects the communities we serve. Our commitment to the inclusion of many different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives enables our innovation and leadership in the healthcare services industry. For more information about AMN Healthcare, visit


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