Physician compensation stats

Vital Stats | Web Exclusive


Medscape’s out with their latest physician compensation survey. And though the physician jobs with the highest income are the same as last year—Radiology, Orthopedics, Cardiology and Anesthesiology—the compensation figures as a whole have declined.

For example, the average compensation for Radiologists in last year’s survey was $350,000—and this year comes in at $315,000. Cardiologists and anesthesiologists tied last year at $325,000 for average salary, and this year come in at $314,000 and $309,000 respectively.

These compensation figures were collected from 24,126 physicians nationwide.

Click the link for physician jobs in that specialty.

Radiology: $315,000
Orthopedics: $315,000
Cardiology: $314,000
Anesthesiology: $309,000
Urology: $309,000
Gastroenterology: $303,000
Oncology: $295,000
Dermatology: $283,000
Plastic Surgery: $270,000
Ophthalmology: $270,000
General Surgery: $265,000
Pulmonary Medicine: $242,000
Critical Care: $240,000
Emergency Medicine: $237,000
Pathology: $221,000
Obstetrics/Gynecology: $220,000
Nephrology: $209,000
Neurology: $184,000
Rheumatology: $180,000
HIV/ID: $170,000
Psychiatry: $170,000
Diabetes/Endocrinology: $168,000
Internal Medicine: $165,000
Family Medicine: $158,000
Pediatrics: $156,000





How can you calculate your worth as a physician?

Wondering if your compensation offers are in line? So did I.

By Steven R. Bruhl M.D. and David A. Bruhl | Remarks


Finding a job right out of residency is a complicated and daunting task. Although many young physicians might think they have some idea about their expected income, they often have difficulty correctly assessing the effects of different practice settings and geographic regions on their relative worth.

Once a salary and sign-on bonus has been agreed on, many new physicians fail to ask exactly what measuring stick their employer will use to evaluate their productivity and corresponding future income.

My experience with finding the perfect job was no different, and as practices started sending me contracts and benefit packages the size of small phone books, the same questions kept running through my mind: How do I know what I’m worth? How do I know which contract offers are fair, and which are attempts to take advantage of my financial inexperience?

After several hours of sifting through the various contracts, I knew I was in over my head, so I met with the business manager in charge of the cardiology practice where I was completing my fellowship.

Almost immediately, she recommended I consult the same resource their practice and hundreds of other practices use for answering these questions: the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) manual.

Every year, the MGMA sends out the Physician Compensation and Production Survey to medical practices in order to obtain current information about the compensation and productivity of physicians around the country.

These surveys are provided to all specialty types, practice structures and regions of the country. The results of these surveys are then organized and compiled into charts to help medical practices gauge their own productivity and compensation.

Medical groups often use this information to set their own internal benchmarks for establishing future compensation and productivity standards for current and new physicians.

What I learned from the MGMA manual was that, although there are a myriad of potential variables that go into what determines a physician’s salary, there are six major practice variables that are tracked and that appear to consistently affect a physician’s compensation. They are: practice ownership, group type, geographic section, demographics, partners in practice and call responsibilities.

I found that by using the information in the MGMA manual, I was further able to estimate the average salary of a specific job offer based on the characteristics of each practice.

For example, let’s assume you are an invasive cardiologist and receive three identical compensation packages from three different practices. Practice 1 is a non-hospital owned, single-specialty group type located in a large metropolitan city in the Eastern region, such as New York City.

Practice 2 is a non-hospital owned, single-specialty practice located in a smaller metropolitan city in the Midwest, such as Cincinnati.

Practice 3 is a hospital-owned, multispecialty practice group, located in a non-metropolitan city also in the Midwest, such as Dearborn, Mich.

The first step in determining the average salary of Practice 1 is to look up the average salary for an invasive cardiologist working in a city over 1 million people and record the value. Next, look up the average compensation for an invasive cardiologist working within that region of the country.

Do the same thing for an invasive cardiologist working in a non-hospital-owned practice setting as well as an invasive cardiologist working in a single-specialty practice.

If you add up the average salaries from all four variables and divide by four, you will get what is likely an even closer estimate of the average annual salary for an invasive cardiologist working in Practice 1.

If you then repeat this process for your other job offers, you can now compare the average expected salaries of all job opportunities side by side.

Although there is no doubt that this method is a relatively crude attempt to estimate the salary of a specific practice setting—and no doubt lacks dozens of variables important to the equation—the composite estimates are at their core based on actual reported salaries of physicians working in your specialty within each specific practice setting.

Although the process of averaging four different compensation values based on four different variables is imperfect, these values can help shed light on the current trends in compensation as well as your relative worth in a given practice setting.

In about an hour, I was able to construct a chart comparing the average expected compensation from my top three job offers. Although all of the initial salaries were within 10 percent of each other, I found that the proposed salary for my favorite was 25 percent lower than my estimate from the MGMA manual.

With this knowledge and the counsel of other advisors, I counter-offered for 25 percent more than my initial offer, plus a bonus salary based on my productivity.

To my somewhat surprise, the hospital agreed to my three-year salary proposal, but suggested that my bonus salary be based on a specific work revenue value unit standard, also known as wRVUs.

Their initial productivity goals seemed somewhat high and unrealistic to my lawyer and me. So by referring to the standards published in the MGMA manual for my specific practice structure, we were able to work out a wRVU standard that was more appropriate for my specific practice setting.

From my experience, I found the MGMA manual to be a powerful tool in sorting out my financial value across very different practice settings. However, I would advise anyone consulting the MGMA manual to remember that the data should be use as a general guide rather than as a weapon.

Furthermore, if your potential employer intentionally or unintentionally tries to suggest that your proposed compensation is out of proportion to the average for your area, you may be able to use information in the MGMA manual to show otherwise.

Don’t overlook call responsibilities when discussing your relative productivity. Because call responsibilities often generate little to no direct revenue, make sure this variable is not overlooked when discussing your relative productivity.

Each practice is unique, and it is impossible to tease out the exact value of any particular variable, much less the exact value of a physician in that practice setting. However, using the variables that are known and understanding how they tend to affect compensation will help you better approximate your worth in a given practice setting and take some of the guesswork out of the negotiation process.

Although the process of estimating your worth is somewhat tedious, time-consuming and expensive, I would urge every physician to take the time and spend the money necessary to consult with physicians, practice managers and a lawyer experienced in physician contract law.

In the end, every hour and every dollar spent will likely pay dividends that go far beyond your starting salary.

Steven Bruhl, M.D., is a third-year cardiology fellow at the University of Toledo Medical Center and will be taking a position as a cardiologist at Mercy Tiffin Hospital in Tiffin, Ohio. David Bruhl is a lawyer with Rohrbachers Cron Manahan Trimble & Zimmerman Co.

The views expressed in Remarks are solely those of the author and may or may not be shared by PracticeLink or its advertisers.



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North Central region pays physicians most

Vital Stats


You’ll find regional differences throughout the U.S. when it comes to food, accents…and average salaries for physician jobs.

But you might be surprised to learn that it’s not a region filled with major metropolises that offers the highest mean physician salary.

According to the Medscape Physician Compensation Report: 2012 Results, it’s the North Central region (North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa and Missouri)—the same states as last year’s report—where salaries are highest.

Here’s the breakdown of mean physician compensation by region, according to the report:

  • North Central: $234,000
  • Great Lakes: $228,000
  • South Central: $228,000
  • Southeast: $226,000
  • West: $225,000
  • Northwest: $216,000
  • Mid-Atlantic: $214,000
  • Southwest: $214,000
  • Northeast: $204,000





Who’s the happiest?

Flexibility, predictable schedules and immediate impact influence these satisfied specialties.

By PracticeLink Staff | Vital Stats


Most satisfied physicians by specialtyWhat specialty has the most satisfied physicians? Dermatologists take the cake, with radiologists and oncologists following.

Medscape’s Physician Compensation Report 2011 determined the overall satisfaction level of 22 specialties. Overall satisfaction was ranked by averaging responses to questions about compensation and career and specialty choice.

Dermatologists ranked highest in every question, coming in with an 80 percent overall satisfaction rate.

“Flexibility and predictability are two reasons dermatologists enjoy higher levels of job satisfaction,” says Amy Derick, M.D., owner of Derick Dermatology, LLC. “Dermatologists can sub-specialize or do it all: pathology, surgery, cosmetics, pediatrics, adult patients, etc. Dermatologists can work routine daytime hours (full time or part time) and thus have predictable family time in the evenings not typically interrupted by emergencies.”

Radiologists came in second as a group in overall satisfaction (72 percent).

John A. Patti, M.D., FACR, radiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and chairman of the American College of Radiology Board of Chancellors, has been practicing for 36 years.

He’s not surprised that his specialty ranked so high among physician


“You’re at the center

of everything,” he says. “There’s very little diagnosis that occurs today without the use of imaging. That makes you able to interact with a wide range of physicians and a wide range of patients.” more »


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Long hours and flexible scheduling mark a hospitalist’s career

By Marcia Travelstead | Career Move | Summer 2011


NAME: Clay Schneiter, M.D.Hospitalist, Clay Schneiter, MD

TITLE: Physician

EMPLOYER: Sound Physicians

What do you like best about being a hospitalist?

My schedule. As hospitalists, we work shifts. At the end of the day, we turn our pagers off and we’re done. At my former hospitalist job, I worked seven days on and seven days off, so that was a nice schedule. In my current position, I’m required to work 15 shifts a month. It leaves you with 15 to 16 days off a month. You also have the option of working as much as you want to. For example, you can work 20 to 22 shifts a month. I can work more to make more. However, it’s nice to only be required to work 15 to 16 days so I can see more of my family. The shifts are scheduled for 12 hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. or 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

I like the ability to practice inpatient medicine as opposed to outpatient clinic practice. I prefer the flow…higher intensity of more ill patients versus clinic patients. I have a good group of people to work with. I practice with about 24 physicians. Eight or nine of us are on during the day. We get along well—it’s a congenial atmosphere. Everyone looks out for one another versus everyone being in for themselves trying to one out somebody for more patients, more money.

What don’t you like about being a hospitalist?

The days can be long. The 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. shift is probably a longer day than for somebody who has their own outpatient practice. For a hospitalist, it’s a 12-hour day opposed to an 8-hour day. With this day-to-day kind of work, I probably see my children less than somebody who goes in a little later. They may have breakfast with their kids and maybe see them a few hours before they put them to bed. Some days, I don’t see my kids at all. I’m gone before they’re up and I’m home after they’ve gone to bed. We have to cover the nights, so that’s a little rough. You can find yourself at 35, 40, 45 years of age and still covering the night shift.

Of those 15 shifts I work a month, three have to be night shifts. Although, nights pay a little better. You’re seeing more patients, you’re probably billing more.

Why did you choose this job?

Originally, schedule. Getting out of residency, I liked the seven on, seven off schedule. I also liked inpatient versus outpatient. For me, it was less boring for lack of a better word.

Do you have any advice you’d give to other physicians who are considering becoming hospitalists?

For hospitalists, it’s a pretty wide-open field in the job market. There are opportunities almost everywhere. So you need to make sure you’re happy in the city or the part of the country you’re in. Hospital work is hospital work across the board. The last place I worked was in a part of the country we weren’t really happy with. I liked the job very much but didn’t like that part of the country. That’s why we moved to Denver, which is more suitable for our family lifestyle. So that would be my advice: Make sure you are happy and your family is happy in the place you’re living.

Was there anything that surprised you about being a hospitalist?

I don’t know if “surprised” is the right word. It can be frustrating to see a patient continuously come back to your emergency room due to bad lifestyle choices after you’ve counseled them extensively and helped them out with the hospital’s resources to get them on track to making the right choices. The taxpayer is responsible for every unfunded, uninsured patient regardless of their lifestyle choices.

The other thing physicians who are getting into this field should realize is that your workload gets harder as years go by. I think there’s a misconception that when you get out of residency, it’s going to be easier. It’s really the opposite. Life gets a little more intense when you’re out of training rather than when you’re in training. The buck stops with you ultimately as opposed to when you’re in training and there’s always somebody to co-sign your order.

How would a physician go about finding a job such as yours?

I’d start with the geographical area you’d be happy in then start the search there. Target where you think you’re going to be happy mentally and emotionally first, and then try to find the job based on that. Others may say to go for the most accredited or widely recognized hospital wherever it is. Maybe you want to work, for example, at Johns Hopkins. Just make sure you’re happy at home first.

Do you have any objective tips on how to land a hospitalist job?

I always use this adage: A good doctor is a good doctor. They’ll find work anywhere regardless of training, background, gender or ethnicity. A good doctor will be well received. Interviews for hospitalists don’t tend to be real intense. I think it’s a buyer’s market for the physician because of shortages. Be yourself, be honest, and if you’re ready to work, there’s a place for you. Stay in the game. Medicine is always changing.

Are you looking for hospitalist jobs? Check out what’s available on—it’s FREE to search!


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Sharing your wealth

Changes in federal estate and gift taxes offer planning opportunities

By Bruce D. Armon, Esquire, and Bob Louis, Esquire | Legal Matters | Summer 2011


Benjamin Franklin said that nothing is certain in life but death and taxes. As someone said more recently, taxes are the only one of the two that you can postpone or reduce.

Though you can’t avoid the inevitable, you can and should take steps to protect those closest to you with careful estate planning. This applies whether you are a multimillionaire at the twilight of your career or a physician who recently finished or is about to finish training.

In the last few weeks of 2010, Congress and the president agreed to extend the so-called Bush tax cuts through 2012. The same law made several very favorable changes in federal estate and gift taxes, and these changes offer opportunities for significant tax savings.

Where we started

In 2001, the federal tax law was amended to increase the threshold exemption from federal estate taxes. Over a period of years, the exemption rose to $3.5 million per person, which meant that, with careful planning, a husband and wife could pass as much as $7 million to the next generation free of federal estate tax.

Then, in 2010, the federal estate tax expired for one year. Those who died during 2010, which included some very wealthy people, could avoid the estate tax altogether. Many people thought Congress would act long before the year of a no estate tax arrived, but stalemate in Washington, D.C., prevented any action from being taken.

The 2001 law provided that the estate tax was to spring back into existence in 2011, but at the rates and with the exemption that were in effect before the 2001 law. That meant that the estate tax rate could be as high as 55 percent, with an exemption of only $1 million. A reversion to that law would have “caught” many people in the federal estate tax, since the tax is imposed on, among other assets, retirement accounts, certain life insurance and homes owned.  more »


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Primary Care Physicians: Saying no to low compensation

Shortage of income is yet another symptom of the critical decline of primary care physicians.

By PracticeLink Staff | Web Exclusive


According to 35 percent of primary care physicians (PCPs), compensation is the most important factor in changing practices.

The Medicus Firm, a physician-recruiting group, recently conducted a 2011 compensation survey that showed physician compensation, for the most part, stayed the same as last year. For a country facing a predicted shortage of 46,000 PCPs by 2025, the news of unsatisfied PCPs continues to worsen. PCPs did not see the kind of across-the-board gains in income reported in 2010 that internists’, who’s incomes rose by 14 percent did.

Compensation was 50 percent more important to PCPs who were evaluating a professional move than location or quality of practice, the most significant factors for residents and fellows.

Six percent of physicians surveyed said they were unhappy enough about compensation to consider leaving medicine entirely, according to the Medicus survey.

New doctors seem to be going where the money is, and it’s not in primary care.

Read the full story reported by Medical Economics. Read more.




Protect the value of your future earnings

Protect your most valuable asset—the earning power that your training has provided you—with insurance.

By Michael Lewellen, CFP | Financial Fitness | Spring 2011


As advisors to young physicians across the country, we are often asked, “What is the most important thing I should be doing financially in the first years of practice?” Our answer is simple: “You need to build a solid foundation.” The application of the concept of a foundation is different for each physician. However, as with patients, we often see very common symptoms and can make some generalizations about what is involved in creating a financial foundation for many young doctors.

Foundation building for young physicians depends on where they are in their personal lives (single, married, kids, etc.). Also, it can and needs to begin before the physician even leaves training because, like most things, establishing the right habits are key to building a financial foundation.

Most young physicians will see a significant increase in their incomes when they begin their practice. Up to this point, they have typically been living paycheck to paycheck, and a jump in income by five-fold or more can be a bit euphoric. With a “spend now and plan later” attitude, many young physicians will indulge a bit and make large purchases. Often taken too far, they find themselves once again living paycheck to paycheck. The attitude then becomes: “Once I make partner in a few years, I’ll address my financial plan…”

At the outset of their medical career, physicians in training are told “first, do no harm.” As advisors to young physicians at the outset of their financial careers, we give similar advice: “First, build your foundation.” That foundation includes protecting your future income and earning potential with disability and life insurance. more »


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Cruise ship physician

A prime cabin, 24/7 food, diversity and the cruising life await

By Marcia Travelstead | Career Move | Spring 2011


NAME: Adriana Yates, M.D.
TITLE: Senior physician
EMPLOYER: Carnival Cruise Lines

Adriana Yates, M.D.

Adriana Yates, M.D.

What do you like best about being a cruise ship physician?
A lot of things. The ship is amazing! As a doctor, you are a senior officer, so you have the best quality of life on board. You have one of the best cabins with a steward to clean your cabin and wash your clothes every day. You have food available 24 hours a day. You are provided with uniforms and have the opportunity to meet people from more than 60 different countries. You can go to different lunches and dinners that are available for guests and crew. You can go to the lounges, shows, work out at the gym or get off at the ports of call. You also have 24-hour Internet access.

What don’t you like about being a cruise ship physician?
The only thing I don’t like is being away from my husband, family and friends for a couple of months. The good thing is that my husband can come with me, but not for long periods of time. more »


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Who’s making what?

More than three-quarters of physician specialties saw increased compensation in 2009

By PracticeLink Staff | Spring 2011 | Vital Stats


Who's Making What

American Medical Group Association 2010 Medical Group Compensation and Financial Survey 2010 Report Based on 2009 Data Survey at a Glance. *M.D. reported, as opposed to Ph.D. Not all specialties are included in this chart.

WITH THE COST OF EVERYTHING RISING—from food to gas to tuition for schools— here’s some good financial news: Overall, physicians in 76 percent of specialties saw their compensation rise in 2009.

Physicians specializing in pulmonary disease, dermatology and urology saw among the biggest compensation increases; for specialties overall, the average was a 3.4 percent rise.

The highest-paid specialties reported include cardiac and thoracic surgery, orthopedic surgery and subspecialties, cardiology-cath lab, and diagnostic radiology-interventional (in bold at right).

Those compensation figures are detailed in the American Medical Group Association’s 2010 Compensation and Financial Survey (2009 data).

Notes the report: “Many factors influence a change in physician compensation, some of which are market demand for certain specialists and new technologies or new procedures that impact the physician’s overall productivity.” more »


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