A Physician Incentive Plan that Works

When it comes to recruiting physicians, incentives are a key element in the process, but what incentives are the most valuable to them? How do you decide where to put your recruitment budget dollars? Well, the Merritt Hawkins’ 2016 Review of Physician and Advanced Practitioner Recruiting Incentives provides just such insights into what really matters. This report was conducted utilizing results from 3,342 physician and advanced practitioners recruiter assignments with approximately 90% of those searches resulting in hiring physicians and just 10% from independent practice style scenarios. We encourage you to read the full report here, but for those of you who are short on time, here’s a helpful recap of the details you should consider including in your next physician incentive plan.

Relocation Allowance

In 2016, 95% of all Merritt Hawkins searches offered some form of relocation allowance with the average cost being $10,226.

Signing Bonuses

In 77% of their searches, Merritt Hawkins offered signing bonuses this year. However, they made a great point of stating, “signing bonuses remain a standard recruiting incentive, though they may not be used in instances in which physicians are changing employers within the same community and do not need the extra inducement of a bonus.”

Additional Benefits

Benefits are always a big deal to candidates, including physicians. Below is a list by percentage of incentive offerings that Merritt Hawkin’s used in their 2016 searches.

  • Health Insurance – 98%
  • Malpractice – 98%
  • Retirement – 96%
  • Disability – 97%
  • Educational Forgiveness – 26%
  • Other – 1%

As you can see, the majority of packages include at least the first four offerings. It should be noted that, “health insurance, malpractice insurance, retirement, disability, and educational loan forgiveness are standard in the majority of Merritt Hawkins’ physician search assignments.”

With these three items in mind, hospitals who are actively recruiting physicians should consider a review of their benefits, the level of their sign-on bonuses and offering relocation assistance if they want to be a top choice for physician candidates. When it comes down to choosing between two competitive health systems, numbers and details make all the difference.


Are your physician salaries competitive? When making an offer to a high-level clinical candidate, you should make sure your offer is in line with the industry standard. If you’re unsure, check out our helpful Physician Compensation Worksheet.

Physician Compensation