Each year, a variety of physician salary surveys are published with varying degrees of detail and context. Charts and tables deliver a wealth of information, but you need to read between the lines to understand how each report defines compensation and the larger trends driving it.
Here is a brief overview of recently published surveys to get you started.
This leading media source publishes a round-up of compensation data for 23 specialties as reported by 12 organizations, from recruitment and consulting firms to industry associations. This three-page survey reports average starting salaries, rather than average incomes. Salary and bonuses are included, but insurance, stock options, and benefits are not. Data points include:
- Average cash compensation for that specialty
- Percentage change between the current and previous year
- Physician pay increases appear to be slowing, possibly due to the rise in hospital employment, where salary (vs. bonuses) make up most of compensation for physicians.
- Although primary care specialties are among the lowest paid, they scored the highest average starting pay increases.
- Emergency, internal, family, and hospital medicine physicians saw average year-to-year pay increases of more than 3%.
The Medical Group Management Association gathers W-2 data directly from practice managers at over 5,800 organizations nationwide, providing a dataset of approximately 136,000 providers. Their data offers a complete picture of over 140 physician specialties based upon practice size, region, metropolitan statistical area and more. Benchmarks include:
- Compensation – Including total pay, bonus/incentives, retirement and more
- Productivity – Work RVUs, total RVUs, professional collections and charges
- Benefit Metrics – Hours worked per week/year and weeks of vacation
- Primary care physician compensation increased by more than 10% over the past five years.
- Depending on specialty, the difference in compensation between states can be in the range of $100,000 to $270,000.
- Family medicine physicians saw a 12% rise in total compensation over the past five years, while their median number of work relative value units (wRVUs) remained flat. This reflects higher signing bonuses, continuing medical education stipends, relocation reimbursement and other cash incentives to attract and retain physicians.
The American Medical Group Association survey represents more than 105,000 clinical providers. Participants are primarily large multispecialty medical groups and integrated health systems. The average number of providers per participant group was approximately 380. Data includes:
- Net collections
- Work RVUs
- Compensation-to-productivity ratios
- Although compensation per relative value unit (work RVU) was higher than average, 2017 was the first-year physician compensation increased by less than 2% in over a decade.
- Compensation increased only +0.89%.
- The national median showed a decline in physician productivity by a weighted average of -1.63%, possibly related to growing administrative burdens on providers.
Doximity is known as the largest medical social network in the country – with over 70% of US doctors as verified members. Their report draws on the responses of more than 65,000 licensed U.S. doctors in 40 medical specialties. Physicians who are verified Doximity users can access an interactive salary map to drill down on compensation data combined with housing cost insights.
Their public report focuses on year-over-year trends in:
- Physician compensation across Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs)
- The gap in pay between male and female physicians
- Absolute physician compensation across specialty, state, region, and gender
- There was a 4% increase in physician compensation nationally.
- Less populated MSAs tend to have higher average compensation compared to larger cities.
- The presence of large medical schools in an area ensures a stronger pipeline of doctors competing for a relatively fixed number of positions, which causes a dampening effect on compensation.
Medscape is one of the most popular sources for physicians who use the report to access high-level salary trends and gauge how their peers feel about the challenges and rewards of practicing medicine. More than 20,000 physicians in 29 specialties responded to the online survey, and the results were weighted to the American Medical Association’s physician distribution by specialty. Information reported:
- Annual Compensation by Specialty
- Year-to-year Trends
- Regional Averages
- Employed physicians comprised 69% of the respondent group versus 26% who are self-employed, with 5% not reporting.
- Demand for specialists to help address behavioral health issues and the opioid crisis surged, highlighted by a year-to-year increase in psychiatry and physical medicine/rehabilitation.
- Physicians cited altruistic reasons as the top three most rewarding parts of their job, with “making good money at a job I like” ranking fourth.
To further contribute to the resources available to physicians, we offer a physician compensation resource center that includes an interactive calculator with data compiled from published industry sources, as well as proprietary data from our search assignments. Customizable calculator fields encompass the components that are typically included in a compensation package, including:
- Sign-on Bonus
- Residency stipend
- Relocation assistance
- Student loan repayment
- Bonuses for productivity and quality
The Physician Salary Calculator enables you to:
- Easily access customized physician compensation data
- Drill down by specialty, state, and type of location
- Get instant results and have your report emailed to you
Your results will instantly show a competitive market-based scenario that breaks out base salary, benefits, hiring incentives and bonuses. The calculator is unique in its design for use with an offer in hand, or if you are considering relocation and want to see how far your current compensation would stretch in a different state or type of community.
In addition to the salary calculator, our resource center features relevant physician compensation articles and videos.
A Final Piece of Advice
For any practice opportunity, making an apples-to-apples comparison can be confusing. When negotiating, ask all the questions needed to fully understand the components of your compensation package. Industry insiders and experienced physician recruiters can be valuable resources. If you would like to speak to a recruiter, use the Contact Us form below.