The United States is facing a growing shortage of physicians. As the population ages and people live longer, there is an increasing demand for healthcare services. However, there are not enough newly trained physicians entering the workforce to keep pace. At the same time, many physicians are nearing retirement age.

physician recruitment challenges 2024

A recent report by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) predicts a shortage of between 54,100 and 139,000 physicians by 2033. Primary drivers of the shortage include the aging population, physician retirements, and the limited number of residency training positions. The US Census Bureau estimates that the number of Americans over age 65 will nearly double from 52 million in 2018 to 95 million by 2060. As this population ages, their demand for healthcare services will rise sharply. Additionally, roughly one-third of currently active physicians will reach retirement age within the next decade. However, there are too few medical school slots and residency positions to train adequate numbers of new physicians to replace them. According to the AAMC, without intervention the US could see a shortfall ranging from 21,400 to 55,200 primary care physicians and 33,700 to 86,700 specialists.

Increased Competition

Healthcare organizations across the country will see increased competition for top physician talent in 2024. As the physician shortage worsens, recruiters will be battling each other to attract and hire the best doctors. This heightened competition will likely lead to rising salaries and benefits packages as healthcare employers try to incentivize candidates to join their organization.

Rural and smaller communities may struggle the most with physician recruitment as they compete against larger health systems that can offer high compensation and state-of-the-art facilities and technology. Recruiters in these areas will need to highlight the benefits of living in a smaller community and build relationships with candidates to stand out. Telemedicine and remote work options could help rural recruiters attract physicians who want to live in suburban or urban areas while still providing care to underserved communities.

Overall, the forecasted physician shortage and increased competition will require recruiters to fine tune their value proposition and candidate experience. Leveraging data and recruitment tech will be key in identifying, engaging and ultimately hiring top talent. Recruiters who can move quickly and deliver an exceptional recruitment process will have the edge in securing physicians in high demand specialties.

Work-Life Balance

Younger physicians increasingly value work-life balance and are less inclined to join private practices that require working long, irregular hours. Since the 1980s, the number of physicians working in their own practices has declined while employment in large groups and hospital settings has increased. This shift reflects younger doctors' desire for regular schedules with nights, weekends and holidays off so they can achieve greater balance between their personal and professional lives.

Surveys indicate that millennial and Gen Z doctors are more vocal about wanting set schedules of 40-50 hours per week. They are willing to sacrifice some income for more personal time and flexibility. This differs from baby boomer and Gen X physicians who were traditionally willing to work 60-80 hours weekly and be on call in order to have higher earnings potential in a private practice setting.

Physician recruiters will need to emphasize opportunities that offer predictable schedules, flexibility and good vacation time when marketing to younger candidates. Positions that don't allow much separation between work and home life are decreasingly attractive to the newest generation of doctors. To recruit top talent in the future, healthcare organizations and practices will need to demonstrate they understand and accommodate younger physicians' increased demand for work-life balance.

Changing Technology Will Necessitate Different Skills

One of the biggest challenges physician recruiters will face in finding top talent in 2024 is ensuring candidates have the necessary technology skills for modern medical practice. As telemedicine becomes more prevalent and new innovations change how physicians work, technical literacy will be a must-have.

Doctors entering the workforce will need to be proficient in telemedicine platforms and comfortable diagnosing patients remotely via video chat. They'll also need to adeptly use electronic health record (EHR) systems and analytics tools to track patient data. Keeping up with the latest medical devices and equipment that rely on software and AI will also be important.

Medical schools and residency programs will have to update their curricula to produce graduates fluent in healthcare technology. Recruiters will be tasked with assessing if candidates have the requisite tech skills or the ability to get up to speed quickly. The most in-demand physicians will combine medical expertise with comfort adopting and learning new technologies.

Recruiters will likely seek candidates open to continual education and training around healthcare tech. Doctors who can adapt as innovations arrive and reshape their day-to-day practices will have a significant advantage. The ability to provide top-notch virtual and in-person care will be paramount.

Generational Differences

The generational differences among physicians will present challenges for recruiters in attracting top talent. Each generation has distinct expectations and values when it comes to their medical careers.

Millennials, also known as Generation Y, make up the largest share of practicing physicians today. This generation values work-life balance, flexibility, and meaningful work. They expect technology enabled healthcare and less hierarchical organizational structures. Millennials also prioritize diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Recruiters will need to highlight these aspects of roles and workplaces to attract millennial talent.

Generation Z is just starting to enter the medical workforce. This generation is extremely tech savvy and expects healthcare technology integration. They also highly value diversity and creative expression in the workplace. Gen Z physicians want roles where they can make an impact on society. Recruiters need to understand these motivations to attract the best of this emerging generation.

With such varied priorities across generations, physician recruiters will need to carefully tailor their recruitment strategies and messaging to resonate with physicians of different ages. Making generational differences a priority will help in securing top talent.


The physician compensation landscape is rapidly evolving. By 2024, physician recruiters will likely need to offer more competitive compensation packages to attract top talent. This includes contending with:

  • Higher salary expectations. With the cost of medical education soaring, many newly trained physicians enter the workforce with over $200,000 in student loan debt. To compensate, they expect higher starting salaries right out of residency or fellowship. Academic medical centers and rural clinics may struggle to meet these salary demands.

  • Loan repayment demands. Given their educational debt burden, physicians will increasingly demand robust loan repayment assistance. This perk may become as important as salary. Health systems that don't offer generous loan repayment programs will be less competitive.

  • Signing bonuses. To stand out, physician recruiters may need to offer five- and six-figure signing bonuses, particularly for specialties facing shortages like primary care, psychiatry, and select surgical subspecialties. Signing bonuses that only vest after several years of service are likely to become more common.

In the face of physician shortages in many specialties, health systems will need the budget to provide total compensation packages that appeal to top talent. Physician compensation will remain a key recruitment tool in 2024.

Diversity & Inclusion

Physician recruiters will need to prioritize recruiting a diverse physician workforce in 2024. As the US population becomes more diverse, patients increasingly prefer physicians who share their cultural background and can provide culturally competent care. However, medicine has traditionally lacked diversity, with Black, Hispanic, and Native American physicians significantly underrepresented compared to their share of the population.

To build a diverse physician workforce, recruiters will need to actively seek out women, people of color, LGBTQ physicians, and other minority groups that have been historically excluded. This requires developing relationships with diverse medical societies, minority-serving medical schools, and conducting outreach in underrepresented communities. Recruiters should tout not just their compensation packages, but also their health system's commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

Beyond recruitment, health systems must also nurture an inclusive culture where women and minority physicians feel welcomed, supported, and able to advance in their careers. If physicians encounter discrimination, lack of mentorship, or see few people like themselves in leadership roles, they will be more likely to leave the organization. Building a truly diverse physician workforce requires an organizational commitment to equity at all stages of the talent lifecycle.

Work Setting Preferences

Historically, most physicians aspired to open their own private practices after residency training. However, in 2024, fewer newly graduated physicians will be interested in owning their own practices. Instead, most will prefer employed positions at hospitals, health systems, or large group practices.

Several factors account for this shift away from private practice:

  • Student loan debt - The average medical student graduates with over $200,000 in student loan debt. This financial burden makes it difficult for new physicians to obtain financing to start a private practice. Employed positions provide a steady salary and loan repayment programs.
  • Desire for work-life balance - Younger generations of physicians want more control over their work schedules. Private practice often requires long hours and being "on-call" frequently. Employed positions allow for more flexible schedules and shared call responsibilities.
  • Preference for team-based care - Newer physicians are used to training in interdisciplinary teams and want to continue that style of practice. Large group settings with many specialists foster collaboration and integrated care delivery models.

Recruiter will need to emphasize large multi-specialty groups and health system employment when marketing to prospective physician candidates. Few newly trained physicians will be interested in the demands of owning their own small practices. Promoting steady salaries, loan repayment programs, schedule flexibility, and opportunities to work in integrated care teams will resonate most with the next generation of physicians.

Licensing and Immigration

With an increasing number of international medical graduates coming to the U.S. for residency and work opportunities, physician recruiters will face challenges related to licensing and immigration in 2024.

One key challenge is the often lengthy delays in securing a medical license for international physicians. The requirements and process vary by state, but generally involve credential verification, exams, background checks, interviews and other bureaucratic steps. This can take 6 months in some states, delaying an international physician's ability to start working. Recruiters will need to factor in these potential delays when hiring foreign talent.

Visa restrictions could also pose an obstacle for recruiters seeking to hire physicians trained abroad. The availability of J-1, H-1B and other visas fluctuates depending on U.S. immigration policy. If limitations on work visas tighten, it will shrink the pool of foreign doctors able to be recruited. Even physicians who obtain visas face renewal uncertainty. Recruiters will need to closely track immigration policies and account for visa risks when recruiting internationally.

Overall, licensing and immigration red tape is likely to complicate recruiting top physicians from other countries. Navigating the bureaucracy and delays will require patience and persistence from recruiters. Those able to help international candidates secure licenses and visas will have a competitive edge in the physician talent marketplace.


The physician recruiting landscape is facing several key challenges in the coming years that will require recruiters and health systems to adapt their strategies. The main issues covered in this article include the shortage of physicians, increased competition for top talent, generational differences in work-life balance priorities, changing technologies, rising compensation expectations, calls for greater diversity and inclusion, shifting work setting preferences, and licensing and immigration challenges.

While finding and securing top physician talent will remain as important as ever for delivering high-quality care, traditional recruiting approaches may need to evolve. Recruiters will need to tap into new sourcing channels, leverage innovative marketing techniques, provide flexible and competitive offers, and focus more on culture fit and long-term retention. Health systems must also invest in supporting and developing their current physician workforce to reduce turnover.

Adapting best practices from other competitive talent fields can help. Most importantly, physician recruiters will need to deeply understand what motivates and satisfies today's physicians at different career stages. Building authentic relationships and listening to their needs will be key. With foresight and agility to address these emerging physician recruitment challenges, health systems can continue to attract and retain the very best clinical talent.

If you need help finding the right physican data to fill your open searches, get in touch with Profiles Database today.