The medical field has been growing in recent years. Across the country, increasing enrollment in medical programs reflects the high demand for doctors. Between 2018 and 2019, the number of medical school applicants increased by 1.1%, or 53,371, a record. Medical school enrollment is now 52% higher than it was in 2002. There were 40,084 applicants for medical residencies in 2020, for a total of 37,256 positions. Between 2016 and 2020, most medical schools filled all the residency positions in physical medicine and rehabilitation.
The American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (ABPMR) sets certification standards in physiatry and administers licensing exams. Data from the ABPMR reveal that the board has issued 13,476 certifications in physical medicine and rehabilitation. The board also oversees the exams for subspecialties, including sports medicine, pain medicine and brain injury medicine. It has issued hundreds of certifications to exam-takers in each of its subspecialties.
PM&R Career Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that demand for physicians, including physicians in specialties such as physical medicine and rehabilitation, will increase by 4% between 2019 and 2029. An aging population is one factor behind the increase in demand for doctors. The development of new technologies that ease some physicians’ responsibilities, along with policy changes that allow nurses and physician assistants to take on some of the tasks doctors once exclusively performed, also affect the growth rate of employment opportunities for doctors.
The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) predicts a physician shortage of up to 122,000 doctors by 2032. While the shortfall will mainly be in the field of primary care, the AAMC estimates that specialties, including physiatry, will see deficits between 1,900 and 12,100.
The need for physicians now and in the near future centers in specialty areas that primarily treat injuries and illnesses affecting an aging population. PM&R fits right into that need and is one specialty that could experience notable growth. Handling the pain and increasing the functionality of aging and surgically replaced joints is only one aspect of PM&R that is on the rise.
Physicians perform more than a million joint replacement surgeries in the U.S. each year. Experts project the number of replacement surgeries to climb to 4 million by 2030. For example, between 2000 and 2010, the number of people getting hip replacement surgery increased by more than 100%. The increase in the number of those surgeries for people 75 and older was 92%.
Innovation in joint replacement technology is one area contributing to the increased need for physiatrists. The aging population in the U.S. is also likely to add to the demand for physiatrists. The most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show there are 15,600 skilled nursing facilities in the U.S., with 1.3 million residents.
Disabled military veterans are also likely to need physical medicine and rehabilitation. Data from the Department of Veterans Affairs reveal that although the number of veterans has dropped since 1990, veterans with a service-connected disability have increased. In 2018, more than 4.5 million veterans reported having a service-connected disability.
Where Do Physiatrists Work?
Most physiatry fields are in demand. The request for PM&R doctors to provide work in subacute facilities continues to rise.
Physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians who prefer to work in an inpatient setting can find such work easily in most areas. Many facilities are including internal medicine physicians as staff to reduce the workload demands on inpatient physiatrists.
There is a continued demand for physiatry subspecialists in traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury and pediatric rehab. Interventional PM&R positions continue to be available, as so many different subspecialties include these services in their practice. More employers are providing affiliation as an employee to satisfy physiatrists’ interests.
PM&R Hiring Trends: Sports Medicine
Another area of growth for PM&R is in sports medicine. In the past five years, sports medicine has seen a 5.3% increase in jobs. Jobs for sports medicine physicians are on track to grow by 14.9% by 2024, much higher than the projected growth in other careers.
Recent years have seen an intense focus on all areas of sports medicine, especially from athletes of all ages and ability levels. PM&R can give competitors an edge with maximum functionality and fast recovery from injury.
Salary Outlook for Physiatry
The median annual salary for physiatrists ranges from $200,000 to $276,510. In 2019, the average annual salary for physiatrists was $306,000, placing physiatrists somewhere in the middle for earnings potential. Some medical specialists — like orthopedic and plastic surgeons — earn considerably more, while others — such as pediatricians and internists — earn markedly less.
Here is a sampling of state salary averages for physiatrists.
- California: $271,314
- Florida: $233,149
- Ohio: $257,570
- Massachusetts: $299,847
- Mississippi: $239,135
- New York: $302,709
The Economic Research Institute lists the following average salaries for physiatrists in large cities.
- Houston: $300,000
- Orlando: $274,000
- Los Angeles: $321,00
- Manhattan: $339,000
- Seattle: $310,000
Depending on where they work, physiatrists can make as much as $376,740 annually, with the ones who work for private companies earning the highest salaries. Some physiatrists receive an annual bonus between $5,014 and $35,608. While that is a broad range, the exact amount depends on the location and type of employer.
In addition to a salary, most practicing physiatrists also get medical and dental insurance, professional liability insurance and an employer-provided retirement plan. Physiatrist positions generally come with rather lucrative benefits packages that could include 401(k) and profit-sharing.
Location is a highly influential factor in physiatrist salaries. Here are the top five states for physiatrist salaries and the bottom five.
- Hawaii: $287,981
- Massachusetts: $299,847
- New Hampshire: $291,822
- New York: $302,709
- Washington: $297,755
- Alabama: $241,580
- Florida: $233,149
- Mississippi: $239,135
- Missouri: $238,574
- North Carolina: $222,008
What Else Impacts a Physiatrist’s Earnings?
Other than their geographical location, factors affecting the salary a physiatrist earns include:
- Company size
- Level of education
- Years of experience
Two of the most influential factors in a physiatrist’s success are the years of experience and the specific set of skills you have acquired. With more years of experience and a more robust skill set within the field, you can command a salary that’s considerably higher than the average.
The employers who pay lower salaries for physiatrists are mostly government agencies, nonprofits, pharmaceutical facilities and educational institutions. Physiatrists working in the health care industry have more earning potential. Those working for privately owned companies or in private practice tend to be at the top end of the earnings scale.
PM&R Job Market
PM&R jobs are available in most states, although these jobs are less competitive outside major metropolitan areas. If you are willing to work in a low-income community or a sparsely populated region, you’ll likely find more job opportunities at higher salaries.
Board certification in PM&R will also help your chances of landing a high-paying position with a reputable practice or rehab center. The more focused your residency and experience are in the specific type of PM&R practice you are interested in, the better your chances of landing the job you want.
Once your credentials are in order, the next step is to contact Farr Healthcare. We place physiatrists all over the country in rewarding positions. Like you, we specialize in the nuances of PM&R, which makes us more knowledgeable about the field and potential employers. Working with us gives you an advantage over other job applicants. You can submit your physician application today.
Developing Better Medicine
The number of children born with debilitating conditions like spina bifida and cerebral palsy is not growing, but the number of interventions available to help them cope with these conditions is. Physiatrists continue to open up more job opportunities for themselves in pediatrics by developing innovative ways to improve functionality for disabled children.
The survival rates for children born with debilitating diseases continue to rise, increasing the need for physiatrists to treat and follow each patient through childhood or longer. So far, an equal supply of trained professionals has not met this growing demand for physiatrists. Given the limited number of graduate programs in PM&R, it’s unlikely we’ll make up this deficit in the next 10 years or more.
Discover the Farr Healthcare Difference
At Farr Healthcare, we understand physiatry hiring trends because we have worked in PM&R. Our experience has equipped us to describe your unique value to potential employers and find the position that fits you well. From entry-level to highly experienced positions, we can help you get into the job you want in PM&R.
PM&R is an exciting, rapidly growing field. As a medical specialty, it is not well-known, but it requires a unique combination of skills and knowledge. At Farr Healthcare, we respect how hard you had to work to get your PM&R certification, and we want to match you with an employer who values that, too.
We work to educate our clients who may be new to the field about the rigors of training to become a physiatrist. We help them understand what to look for in a candidate and what most candidates are looking for in an employer. From large rehab centers to private practices, Farr Healthcare gets to know the employers who list PM&R jobs with us.
We have various PM&R job listings in several states across the country. We also get new listings every week or so. When you are ready to begin your career in PM&R or if you are looking for a change, start by calling Farr Healthcare today at 888-362-7200.