Primary care physicians remain the most sought after doctors, according to a new survey by Merritt Hawkins, a national physician recruitment firm.

The 2013 Review of Physician and Advanced Practitioner Recruiting Incentives is based on the 3,097 permanent physician and advanced practitioner search assignments Merritt Hawkins received from April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013. This is the seventh year that primary care physicians have claimed the top spot on the recruitment list.

The report attributes the increased demand to the predicted shortage of about 46,000 primary care physicians by 2020. But it adds that the increase is also likely due in part to the recent shift toward value-based care.

To meet the increased demand, employers seem to be boosting their incentives. The survey shows the average salary for physicians in family medicine is $185,000, which is up from $173,000 in 2008-2009.

But primary care physicians weren’t the only ones in demand this past year. The survey says search assignments for nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) grew 164% from 2011-2012 to 2012-2013, putting them on the list of the top 20 most recruited specialties for the first time.

NPs, who ranked 10 on the list, have an average salary of $118,000, which is up from last year at $99,000. PAs, who ranked at number 12, also saw a jump in their average salary, from $95,000 in 2012 to $105,000 in 2013.

Although some have proposed mid-level providers as a potential solution for the impending shortage, the report’s analysis says the number of NPs and PAs entering the primary care workforce may not be enough to fill in the gap.

By Alison Ritchie, from Medical Economics, September 3, 2013