Keeping money in the family

Family practitioners still in high demand

There was a time when the best specialty to go into was radiology. Residents could be sure of picking their location and getting paid a premium. But those days are over, says Richard Kneidel, senior vice president of primary care at Weatherby Health Care, a Norwalk, CT-based physician recruiting firm.

"Now, primary care providers are in highest demand, and we have a constant excess of opportunities," he says.

Weatherby recently released its 1997 salary survey for family practice residents. (See chart, p. 84.) According to the results, salaries range from $97,000 in Maine and Oregon to $130,000 in Oklahoma. In 1996, the range was from $93,000 in Minnesota to $120,000 in Arkansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Wyoming.

Despite the high salaries and some big jumps in average pay in certain states — 21% in Arizona, 18% in Minnesota, and 15% in New Mexico — the average increase was only about 3.22 %, Kneidel says. It was the same in previous years. "It seems to be just a cost-of-living adjustment on average," he says. "But in places where doctors are harder to attract, it is higher."

Interestingly, Kneidel says internists don’t have the same cachet as other primary care providers. "Many internal medicine candidates are having trouble being placed unless they have

a subspecialty," he notes.

Other specialties don’t seem to enjoy even the modest increases that family practitioners are realizing, Kneidel says. "We don’t have comparative data, but my sense is that family practice salaries are getting higher faster than others. And I think the emphasis on primary care will continue for at least another five years."

Richard Kneidel, senior vice president, primary care division, Weatherby Health Care, Norwalk, CT. Telephone: (800) 365-8901.