Physician pay remains flat, but bonuses rise














According to the tenth annual review of physician recruitment incentives conducted by Merritt, Hawkins & Associates, a physician recruitment company, primary care and family physician compensation offers have remained essentially flat from 2002 to 2003.

What has changed in recruiting incentives is the increased number of Merritt clients that also provide relocation packages, offered in 99 percent of all physician recruitment searches. The review indicates that health care organizations now offer an average relocation allowance of $9,000. In the last four years, an increasing number of the company's clients have also used signing bonuses as an incentive — 36 percent in 2003 compared to just 24 percent in 2000. The average signing bonus in 2003 was $15,000 — a level that hasn't changed much over the last four years. However, the majority (64 percent) of clients still do not offer a signing bonus.

"The signing bonus just sweetens the pot a bit," says Phil Miller, a Merritt spokesman. "The increased use of bonuses represents the market getting more competitive."

The average salary offer made to family practitioners grew from $144,000 to $146,000, an increase of 1.3 percent, as reported in the "2003 Review of Physician Recruitment Incentives." Average offers made to internists grew from $148,000 to $150,000 (up 1.3 percent), while the average offer made to pediatricians grew from $141,000 in 2002 to $146,000 in 2003 — a modest 3.4 percent.

The 2003 review is based on 2,405 physician search-and-consulting assignments conducted from April 2002 to April 2003.

Relocation packages, signing bonuses gain in popularity

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