Redefining Recruitment to Retention

Physician Shortage Worsens Nationally, Impacted by COVID-19

Study Reports Significant Increase in Physician Vacancies

A recent national study of physician vacancies reports health care organizations nationwide are facing increased challenges and competition for physician talent. The Association for Advancing Physician and Provider Recruitment — a leading authority in the physician and provider recruitment to retention continuum – reports a 40% increase as compared to the same study the year prior. Days needed to fill positions also rose, but only by an average of 8% across NPs, PAs and Primary, Specialty and Surgical Physicians. The modest increase was unexpected given 44% of all searches were put on hold at the nation’s largest health systems due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 150 national health care organizations and systems participated in the comprehensive annual research study representing more than 17,000 searches, almost two-thirds specific to physician searches. Additional findings from the just-released Physician and Provider Recruitment Benchmarking Report include:

  • 44% of all searches in 2020 were put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Representing a five-year high, 74% of offers were accepted by physicians in 2020.
  • As in past years, primary care specialties of family medicine, internal medicine, and hospital medicine physicians are the most sought-after specialties, making them among the most competitive positions to fill.
  • Physician positions least likely to be filled in 2020 included Hyperbaric Medicine/Wound Care, Occupational Health and Otorhinolaryngology.
  • If filled, physician specialties with the longest median days to fill were Dermatology, Neurology and Gastroenterology; all more than 220 days.
  • Physician turnover increased more than 4% since the previous year to an average of 13% in 2020.

“We fully anticipate physician shortage numbers to rise, as the findings in this report reflect just the tip of the COVID iceberg,” said Emerson R. Moses, AAPPR President. “The industry was trending towards a severe shortage before the pandemic which has only accelerated the desire to retire for some, and a potential loss of employment for a percentage of others who may not comply with the vaccine mandate at federally funded health systems across the US. The field of physician recruitment has never been easy, and it’s about to get a lot harder.”

The pandemic, however, accelerated the evolution of best practices for physician recruitment as organizations embraced technology integration to address stop gaps in the recruitment process. The use of virtual interviewing, electronic signatures, and other technology tools were quickly adopted resulting in increased speed-to-hire and reduction of expenses.

“Conducting research and bringing to light the latest trends in physician and provider recruitment is central to our mission,” said Carey Goryl, CEO of AAPPR. “This latest report speaks to the magnitude of the challenges facing the industry and gives health care organizations insight into how they can better perform in this competitive hiring environment.”

In an effort to help health care organizations predict the time it will take to fill a particular physician specialty search, anyone can access the online Days to Fill Calculator. This online predictive tool provides an estimated range of time that it will likely take to fill a specific physician specialty vacancy, based on circumstances such as the organization’s size, geographic area or desirability of location.

The complete 2021 In-house Physician and Provider Recruitment Benchmarking Report is available to organizations for sale online. To order, please visit or email

About The Association for Advancing Physician and Provider Recruitment (AAPPR)

The Association for Advancing Physician and Provider Recruitment (AAPPR) is a nationally recognized leader in health care provider recruitment, onboarding, and retention. For more than 30 years, AAPPR has empowered physician and advanced practice provider recruitment leaders to transform care delivery in their communities by providing best-in-class practices, up-to-date industry knowledge, and evolving innovative approaches for hiring, onboarding, and retaining exceptional clinical talent.

To learn more or to become an organizational member of AAPPR, please visit