MED SCHOOL GRADUATES: Facing Lower Pay, Fewer Choices
According to a survey of 300 senior residents in family practice, internal medicine and pediatrics from January to April, "first- year primary care physicians this year were more disappointed with salary offers and somewhat frustrated by fewer choices," American Medical News reports. Dr. Mary Mason, an American Medical Association council member, said, "If you want to go out in rural areas, there are jobs, but if you want to be in the city or around an academic institution, the jobs are very tight. This is very shocking to senior residents who have put in a lot of time in training. The dream jobs that were supposed to be there aren't there now." Conducted by Irving, TX-based Merritt, Hawkins & Associates, the survey found that residents "preferred to practice in urban areas than in rural areas" and that "22% of residents in 1999 said they expected to earn more than $151,000 their first year, compared with 11% in 1997 and 8% in 1995." According to Modern Healthcare's 1998 survey, first-year family physicians earned an average of $120,000 in 1997, while physicians in internal medicine and pediatrics averaged $110,000. Lower salaries have been accompanied by fewer recruiting calls, as "25% of residents polled in 1999 received less than 10 inquiries from recruiters over the course of their training, compared with 16% in 1997 and 11% in 1995." Dr. Mason said, "Few residents know how to get ready to find a job, and most start late. They don't understand capitation and managed care. That hurts them in contract negotiations. Residency programs are not doing a very good job at preparing them because they assume the jobs will be there for residents. They aren't."
Specialists Back in Demand
Mark Smith of Merritt, Hawkins & Associates said, "Employers backed away from recruiting specialists for a few years because of managed care; now they are more in demand, especially the sub-specialists." According to a 1998 AMA survey, 7.9% of new doctors were still unemployed within six months of finishing their residencies -- up from 7.1% in 1996. Additionally, the survey found that "of the 7,628 residents who actively sought jobs, 67% found jobs in clinical settings, 16% found academic positions and 5% found clinical jobs in other specialties" (Greene, 8/16).