Healthcare News and Trends
How to Choose the Right Gastroenterology Job
June 29, 2021
By Linda Beattie, contributor
Having limited options can make job searches difficult, but sometimes
having a wealth of opportunities in your field can be just as challenging. Just
ask George Akra, director of recruiting for internal medicine subspecialties at
Merritt Hawkins, who notes that
many gastroenterologists in the job market are struggling to make the decision
about where to practice.
“Gastroenterology has by far the most jobs right now among our internal
medicine subspecialties,” Akra said. “They are available in different settings:
private groups, including some with partnerships, a lot of hospital employed
positions, academic positions, etc. Candidates can find partnerships with a
buy-in, partnerships with no buy-in required, general GI (gastrointestinal), as
well as gastroenterology jobs that will require advanced procedures like ERCPs and
With so many gastroenterology jobs available
in the market, how can doctors narrow down opportunities and make the best
It requires taking the time to
prioritize which factors matter most, including compensation, professional
development and quality of life, according to Akra. Each opportunity should
also be weighed on how it will fit the physician’s needs over the long-term.
Salaries for gastroenterology jobs
Due to the high demand in the field, many starting salaries for
gastroenterology jobs will pay $550,000 or $600,000, with some approaching
$700,000, Akra noted. More experienced GI practitioners can earn in the realm
“The salary range for a gastroenterologist will often depend on
location; some of the major metro areas that are more desirable may not pay as
much as a smaller community,” Akra said. “Sometimes it is the more remote communities
that are paying the biggest salaries. But places and practices are trying to differentiate
themselves in other ways, as well.”
Employers getting creative to attract candidates
“Gastroenterology can be a tough specialty to fill; these practitioners
have always been in demand, but we’ve definitely seen an increase in recent
years. One issue is that many practicing gastroenterologists are older and
closer to retirement, with more than half over the age of 55. And as the
population ages, there is also more need for this subspecialty as people live
longer and have GI conditions that need diagnosed and treated.”
“We worked with one owner of a private gastroenterology practice in a
small city in Ohio who worked very hard to differentiate himself. In fact, he
has eliminated call; he’s the only one I know to do so,” said Akra. “Recently,
he also created a partnership opportunity with no buy-in required. Several candidates
were interested because he made that change.”
“A solo doctor has the ability to make decisions like that, however,
many can’t do that,” he acknowledged. He added that some practices can have
open GI positions for several months, and might need to hire locum tenens
providers while they continue seeking the right candidate.
Ultimately, a positive work environment offering a good mix of work and
lifestyle benefits can attract and retain the right candidate, to the benefit of
’How do I choose?’ The dilemma facing GI candidates
“I was working with an international candidate recently who was
overwhelmed about what to do in his job search. There are so many options. He didn’t
have any geographical ties to any one place or region, so he could essentially
consider all the gastroenterology jobs across the U.S. So he was asking for advice about how to
choose,” Akra recalled.
“We often recommend that a candidate make a priority list in order to
focus in on what they really need, not just what looks good at the moment. I
also try to get them to keep the list of potential employers small.”
“Residents often see all the opportunities and feel that they have to
apply to as many jobs as possible. But more is not always better,” he
continued. “If someone knows what they are looking for in terms of criteria, we
encourage them to narrow their search. Ideally, look seriously at just two or
three jobs; do your due diligence, ask questions, involve your loved ones and
then go with your gut feeling.”
“Don’t feel like you need to look at 10 jobs; it can be confusing. Keep
the focus as narrow as you can based on your known priorities,” Akra explained.
Key factors to consider with any GI job opportunity
“Experienced gastroenterologists usually have a better idea of what they
are looking for in a new job,” Akra noted. “They may want a change of pace in
terms of hours working or on call, or may want to find a different practice
model with less administrative responsibilities. This is especially true as
they get closer to retirement.”
“On the other hand, residents tend to put a tremendous amount of
emphasis on geographical location for their first gastroenterology job.
Starting salaries are also high on their list of deciding factors. We encourage
them to look at the entire compensation package and long-term earning
potential, including sign-on bonus and the production model—whether it is RVUs
or collection-based. They should ask about patient volume, growth potential and
All gastroenterology physicians should ask about the call schedule and
other situations that can impact their job satisfaction, said Akra. “It is
somewhat the norm in this specialty to have a 1-in-3 or 1-in-4 call schedule,
so a practice or hospital that can offer something like a 1-in-10 call schedule
is very attractive.”
Of course, candidates will also want to take their loved ones and
family life into consideration.
“One physician we were working with is married to another doctor and
they had been living in a big city. But with two young kids and a baby on the way,
they were looking for an opportunity for her to stay home and him to have more
time with the family. This opened up more possibilities in locations for them
to consider, and factors like call schedule really came into play,” Akra said.
Some gastroenterologists may be interested in a position that includes
the opportunity to teach in a fellowship program. Other key factors to consider
will include the work schedule, the organizational culture and the work
atmosphere, the support staff and the efficiency of the actual setup.
“Many gastroenterologists prefer to have at least two rooms going, so
they can move from one procedure to the other without having to wait for a
patient to be prepped. They love efficiency, and would love to do as many
scopes as they can,” Akra noted.
Making the final decision
“If a candidate is being seriously considered for a gastroenterology
job, he or she will get invited to come for an on-site visit. The physician
will get to meet the staff, experience the work culture and see the setup. We
also try to ensure that their significant other accompanies them on the first
interview, so they can check out the community together,” Akra said.
These visits will help all parties decide if the job is the right fit.
Whether you are a new GI resident or fellow, or a physician with a
number of years in the field, an experienced physician
search consultant from Merritt Hawkins can help narrow your job search and talk
through each opportunity based on factors that mean the most to you. When your
decision is made, you’ll also have the support of our team to ensure a smooth
transition to your new gastroenterology practice.
Private Equity Is Transforming the Gastroenterology Job Market
Questions Every Physician Should Ask in a Job Interview
Merritt Hawkins can
introduce you to a number of gastroenterology
jobs across the country.
with a recruiter today!
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