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Medscape Survey on Physician Compensation

By June 4, 2012Commentary

Medscape surveyed over 24,000 US physicians regarding their compensation for 2011.  (Medscape Report)   The top earning specialties were radiology and orthopedics , with average compensation of $315,000.  Cardiology, anesthesiology and urology were not far behind.  The lowest was pediatrics at $156,000 and other low-ranking specialties included family practice, internal medicine and family medicine, all primary care disciplines.  Radiologists, orthopedists and cardiologists each saw 10% declines in compensation from the prior year.  At the other end, opthalmologists had a 9% compensation increase and pediatrics, rheumatology, nephrology, and oncology saw gains above inflation.  Male physicians earn quite a bit more than female ones, on average.  Doctors in the north central tend to earn the most; those in the northeast, the least.  Private practice doctors earn more than those in other settings; and being board certified adds greatly to average income.

About half of all physicians feel under-compensation and a very small percentage see themselves as “rich”.  About half of doctors spend less than 40 hours a week on patient care, and the rest more than that.  Most, about 50%, spend 16 minutes or less per patient visit.  Interestingly, women spend less than men, on average.  Over 50% of physicians spent less than fours a week on administrative matters, suggesting that concerns about how overwhelmed doctors are with administration are exaggerated.  Most doctors have a relatively high level of dissatisfaction and many say they would not pick medicine as a career if they could do it over again.  They are anxious about ACOs, think guidelines negatively affect care, and are interested in concierge and cash-only practices, although few are in those models today.  Most say they won’t reduce testing, because they think it is good for patients or to avoid lawsuits and  most don’t regularly discuss the cost of treatment with patients.  A very interesting survey, to say the least.

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