Physician Recruiting: Merritt Hawkins Review

There are many employment opportunities for certified, licensed physicians in the United States.

In some areas of the country, physicians are in such high demand that bonuses have become almost a standard. As of 2017, physicians reported earning an average signing bonus of $30,000.

But finding a job takes time, and finding the perfect job takes even longer. That is why so many physicians turn to physician recruiters to connect them with potential future employers.


Whether you’re just finishing your residency or are looking for a new job after decades in the industry, there are many recruiters that can help you find your next position.

Let’s take a look at one in particular: Merritt Hawkins.

Are you an employer looking to hire a new physician?

Are you a physician searching for a new job opportunity?

If so, here’s everything you need to know about Merritt Hawkins and why it might be a good choice for you.

Who is Merritt Hawkins?

Merritt Hawkins is the leading physician search firm in the nation. It was established in Newport Beach, CA in 1987, and by 1989 was the third-largest physician search firm in the entire healthcare industry.

In 1998 they earned the endorsements of over 20 different healthcare organizations. In 2005 they joined forces with AMN Healthcare. Becoming the largest healthcare staffing firm in the U.S.

Merritt Hawkins has spent the past 30 years placing physicians in permanent positions around the country. They also staff medical facilities looking for locum tenens physicians to fill temporary openings.

They find employment opportunities for physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants. Currently, family medicine physicians are in the highest demand, followed by psychiatrists and OB/GYNs.

They also find employment for medical academic professionals. Such as deans, chairs, and executives of universities, medical schools, and teaching hospitals.

Merritt Hawkins works with a wide variety of employers. Their clients include hospitals, medical groups, and healthcare facilities around the country.

Their wide network makes them a valuable resource for both employers and physicians.

How Does the Physician Recruitment Process Work?

The recruitment process for physicians is similar to that of other professionals. Clients in search of a new employee contact Merritt Hawkins with a description of the position they need to fill. Physicians seeking work submit their CVs to Merritt Hawkins and let their recruiters know what type of position they’re looking for.

Merritt Hawkins then connects those employers with those physicians whose needs and goals align.

Last year, Merritt Hawkins placed over 3,131 physicians in new jobs. Currently, they have over 470,000 physicians in their database

When a client asks for candidates, Merrit Hawkins draws upon that pool to find physicians that would be strong candidates for that particular position.

The company also helps employers put together competitive incentive packages in order to entice the best physicians to join their team. In addition, they offer strategies regarding how to screen and interview their candidates.

Of course, Merritt Hawkins is in business to make money, and they make their money from employers seeking candidates. The cost per placement typically ranges from $18,000 to $30,000 per physician.

Candidates never have to pay a fee, but should be aware that since the employer pays the cost, Merritt Hawkins is ultimately working on the employer’s behalf.

Related: Understanding Your Resident Doctor Employment Agreement

Protect your income in case of emergencies. Learn about Disability Insurance for Physicians.

Should Physicians Work With a Recruiter?

As a physician, there are both pros and cons in working with a recruiter.

Cons of Working With a Physician Recruiter

1. The recruiter ultimately works for the employer.

The biggest con is that because the employer pays their recruitment fees, the recruiter works for them. That doesn’t mean they don’t have your interests in mind (they do), but they do focus first and foremost on the needs of the employer.

2. Not every employer uses the services of a recruiter.

If you rely on a recruiter as your sole source of employment opportunities, you could be missing out on other (and better) opportunities.

3. It’s harder to find placement with a small group or practice.

If you’re seeking employment with a hospital or a large healthcare group, a recruiter can be valuable. Smaller facilities and private practices often don’t have the funds to cover the hefty cost of recruitment.
If you’re seeking employment with a smaller group, you probably won’t find those opportunities through a recruiter.

4. You may be offered a lower salary.

Employers that work with Merritt Hawkins often build the cost of recruitment into the compensation package, which sometimes means less salary for the physician. Working with a contract review specialist at Physicians Thrive is one way to circumvent this issue.

Our contract review specialists are very successful at negotiating better compensation packages when recruiters are not involved in the process. 80% of our physicians that don’t use recruiters and search firms earn between $10,000 and $40,000 more than those who do choose to use a recruiter like Merritt Hawkins.

Our contract review specialists coach physicians in finding a position. Once you’ve found a position, they will negotiate your contract, allowing you to enjoy an even higher average salary than physicians who work with recruiters. Contact us now to get started.

Pros of Working With a Physician Recruiter

1. Recruiters have a large network.

The main pro of working with a recruiter is that they have a large network and can find opportunities for physicians in all specialties.

Merritt Hawkins tends to have strong relationships with their employer clients. That means that they can usually push your CV to the top of the list of candidates for a particular employer client (over physicians that Merrit Hawkins is not working with).

2. They speed up the hiring process.

In April 2019, the Association of American Medical Colleges reported that there would be a shortage of 122,000 physicians by 2032.

There are jobs out there for physicians and other medical professionals, and you can certainly go about finding one on your own. A recruiter, however, can potentially speed up the process.

How Merritt Hawkins Works for Job Seekers

Merritt Hawkins review for job seekers
So how exactly does Merritt Hawkins work for job seekers? There are a variety of things that their recruiters do in order to connect with an employer seeking a candidate like you.

They Can Place You With the Right Employer

Merritt Hawkins recruits for healthcare employers all over the country. Using their services makes it a little bit easier to find a job in a region where you are most in demand. Jobs in underserved, rural areas are likely to come with added benefits, such as heftier bonuses.

If you’re looking for your first job placement as a licensed physician or seeking a new job in your current field, you can contact Merritt Hawkins at any time to join their database of physicians.

Filling out a simple contact form is the first step in connecting with one of their recruiters. From there, you can expect phone and/or email follow up to learn more about your experience and the type of position you’re searching for.

They’ll Inform You About Compensation and Benefits

As a physician, it’s important to know what the fair market value is for physicians in your specialty and in your region of the country. Merritt Hawkins is also well-versed in this and can let you know if the compensation and benefits package of your potential employer is on par with your specialty and region.

Remember, Merritt Hawkins works on behalf of the employer, so it is always recommended to have a contract review specialist look over your contract before you begin any new job.

Once you’ve been presented with a new job offer, be it through a recruiter or not, contact Physicians Thrive before you sign your contract. Our contract review specialists always have your best interests in mind.

Merritt Hawkins may even be able to help you get a bigger salary or better benefits

According to recent statistics from AMN Healthcare, physicians in Merritt Hawkins saw some significant benefits after being placed in full-time positions with one of their clients.

  • 71% of all physicians placed by Merritt Hawkins received a signing bonus (at an average of $32,692)
  • 98% of all physicians placed by Merritt Hawkins received a relocation bonus (at an average of $10,393)
  • 98% of all physicians placed by Merritt Hawkins received a CME allowance (at an average of $3,620)

Keep in mind, it is commonplace for physicians to receive signing bonuses and allowances for continuing medical education. You don’t need to find a job through Merritt Hawkins to receive one, but their physicians do earn slightly higher bonuses than average.

Whether or not you receive a signing bonus all depends on supply and demand. If you work in a specialty that’s in high demand in a specific area, a signing bonus is to be expected.

They Will Provide Advice and Consultations

Compared to other staffing services, Merritt Hawkins is unique in that they provide their physician candidates with a variety of professional advice through published reports and consultations.

The professionals at Merritt Hawkins can assist you with writing your CV, assessing a practice opportunity, and understanding different practice settings. This information can be extremely helpful, especially for new physicians who are looking for their first full-time position in a healthcare setting.

They can also provide you with helpful insight regarding how to interview, what questions to ask of your potential new employer, and what to look for in your contract.

Again, this information is not a substitute for a contract review specialist. However, it can be quite helpful, especially for physicians about to sign their first contract.

Learn more about how recruiters can help you. Read How to Work With a Physician Recruiter

How Merritt Hawkins Works for Employers

Merritt Hawkins review for employers
As the biggest staffing firm for physicians in the U.S., it’s clear that employers trust the work of Merritt Hawkins. Merritt Hawkins has access to a large pool of physicians in all specialties. And in cities and towns around the country.

The company is highly adept at finding physicians to fill permanent positions. Even hard-to-fill positions in less desirable areas.

In addition to their primary goal of physician placement, Merritt Hawkins also produces a variety of useful, informative reports to assist employers in their recruitment efforts.

They create white papers and surveys about employment trends, recruitment trends, and staffing trends. They also produce informational material on various aspects of the healthcare industry.

Some of their most current reports include their Survey of America’s Physicians and their 2019 Review of Physician and Advanced Practitioner Recruiting Incentives.

Related: How to Write a Physician Cover Letter

How Physicians and Employers Rate Merritt Hawkins

Dozens of healthcare organizations have endorsed Merritt Hawkins, including:

  • National Association of Community Health Centers
  • Hospital Council of Northern & Central California
  • The Maryland State Medical Society
  • Washington Hospital Association
  • Tennessee Hospital Association
  • Hospital Association of Rhode Island
  • Covenant Health
  • Mainline Dermatology
  • West Florida Radiology Associates
  • Associated Physicians LLP


In 2018, Forbes ranked Merritt Hawkins as one of the top 50 best in executive search firms and one of the top 100 best in professional search firms in the United States.

Merritt Hawkins increasingly gets physicians higher salaries each year, but that’s to be expected, as the national average for physician salaries continues to increase year over year.

According to 2019 data, the average family medicine physician earns an average of $231,000 per year. Family medicine physicians placed by Merritt Hawkins earned an average of $239,000 in 2019, up from $185,000 in 2013.

At the high end of the scale in 2019, Merritt Hawkins was able to place family medicine physicians in positions. Paying as much as $400,000 per year.

For Merritt Hawkins, the family medicine physician is the most requested search by employers, and has been for the past several years. Psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, OB/GYNs, and internists round out the top five search requests. Physicians in those specialties are likely to find Merritt Hawkins to be an important resource for job placement.

If you’re looking for a job, be prepared at every step to ensure that you get the terms you want. Start now by reading Physician Letter of Intent: Should You Sign It?

The bottom line is this:

Merritt Hawkins is the leading physician recruitment firm in the U.S. Whether you’re an employer looking to hire or a physician seeking work, working with Merritt Hawkins can help you make the employer/candidate connection that you need.

Employers should know that they’ll need to pay for recruitment costs.

Job candidates should know that they are never responsible for recruitment fees.

Merritt Hawkins will not take a portion of any physicians’ signing bonus or salary in exchange for job placement. That burden falls solely on the employer.

New Opportunities

If you’re a physician looking for a new job opportunity through Merritt Hawkins, or any other recruiter, there’s one important thing to remember:

Always hire a contract review specialist to take a look at your contract before you sign it. Contract review specialists at Physicians Thrive will ensure that you’re getting fair pay, fair benefits, and a signing bonus that’s on par with other physicians in your specialty and region.

Contact Physicians Thrive for more information about preparing yourself for a new role. Making good decisions now can set you up for a bright financial future.

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