Staffing Challenges in 2022

Staffing Challenges in 2022

A new survey by Radiology Business confirms what radiology practices and healthcare facilities have experienced recently. We’re in a fiercely competitive market for radiology staffing positions.

Over half of respondents cited staffing as their biggest challenge, from radiologists to IT professionals and PACS managers and positions in-between. And there’s a ripple effect, too — because of hiring challenges, staff members have to assume extra duties creating increased workloads, and this is the second most significant hurdle for most radiology practices.

According to Mark Kalmar, a practice administrator and president of the Radiology Business Management Association (RBMA) Board of Directors, “In our experience, there is a national shortage of radiologists.”

In 2021, radiologists were in the top 10 most-recruited specialists. Demand is high among both hospitals and private radiology practices.

About 200 radiologists responded to the survey conducted by Radiology Business. 49% were employed in private practice, and 26% worked for hospitals while academic institutions accounted for 15%, and just 4% worked for medical groups. Almost one-quarter of them worked for large entities with more than 500 people. About 40% worked for entities employing 10-50 physicians.

In fact, according to the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), there is not only a radiologist shortage in the United States but also globally.

Dr. Vahid Yaghmai, professor and chair of radiological sciences at the University of California, Irvine, reports that three factors contribute to the critical shortage in the U.S. — increased Medicare enrollment, the aging population, and an insufficient number of radiologists being trained. He observes, “The number of radiologists in the workforce is not growing as fast as the population and the demand for imaging.”

From 2010 to 2020, the number of diagnostic radiologists coming into the workforce increased by only 2.5%, yet Medicare beneficiaries increased by 34%.

The shortage of radiologists continues to push salaries higher. Doximity’s Physician Compensation Report reported that the average annual salary in 2021 for radiologists in the U.S. was $495,451. With bonuses or profit-sharing, private practice radiologists’ yearly compensation is in the $575,000 range. Hospital radiologists’ compensation only lags slightly, averaging about $545,000.

Competition for radiologists in both private practice and hospital settings is intense. Some radiologists prefer imaging center ownership because of the ability to maximize revenue, while other radiologists choose a more effortless quality of life (simply going to work, doing their job, and going back home) provided by hospital employment.

Recruiters appear to be playing a more significant role in attracting and retaining radiology talent. The survey revealed that about 35% of radiologists had seen their compensation rise over the last two years. Half of those surveyed reported that their salary was unchanged, and 16% experienced a drop in compensation. Profit-sharing and bonuses are seen most often in private practices.

As you face staff challenges, remember that providing flexibility through working remotely and offering a beneficial work-life balance may sometimes be the difference in hiring the radiologists and support staff you need. There is little doubt that staffing challenges will continue.