The average starting salary for general internists was up 14.5% in the last year, with growing physician shortages leading to increased demand, according to physician recruitment firm Merritt Hawkins.

The average starting salary was $237,000 among general internists recruited by the company in the 12 months from April 1, 2015, to March 31, 2016, compared with $207,000 the previous year. Of the 3,342 recruiting searches conducted in that year, 233 involved general internal medicine, third highest behind family medicine and psychiatry among the 19 medical specialties tracked in the company’s 2016 Review of Physician and Advanced Practitioner Recruiting Incentives.

Internal medicine had been second on the list of the most requested recruiting assignments for 9 consecutive years. The number of searches for 2015-2016 was down just slightly from the previous year, however, suggesting that the increased “focus health care providers are putting on addressing mental health challenges” does not represent a turn away from internal medicine, the report noted.

It is, possibly, “the migration of many general internists into hospitalist roles [that] has limited the supply of physicians willing to practice traditional internal medicine and increased salary offers to those who are willing to do so,” Merritt Hawkins said.

Starting salaries were up for 18 of the 19 specialties, with only emergency medicine showing a decease. “Demand for physicians is as intense as we have seen it in our 29-year history,” Travis Singleton, senior vice president of Merritt Hawkins, said in a separate statement. “The expansion of health insurance coverage, population growth, population aging, expanded care sites such as urgent care centers and other factors are driving demand for doctors through the roof, and salaries are spiking as a consequence.”

rfranki@frontlinemedcom.com

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