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Medscape California Physician Compensation Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | July 23, 2019 | Contributor Information

California physicians who responded to this year's Medscape compensation survey disclosed their salary, the expenses and debts that they have, how much money they put into a tax-deferred retirement or college savings account each month, what is most rewarding and challenging about their jobs, and more. (Note: Label values in charts are rounded, but rankings and calculations are based on raw data to avoid rounding errors.)

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Medscape California Physician Compensation Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | July 23, 2019 | Contributor Information

Survey respondents were asked to provide their compensation for patient care. For employed physicians, that includes salary, bonus, and profit-sharing contributions. For partners, it includes earnings after taxes and deductible business expenses before income taxes. Only full-time salaries are reported.

Physician income has done quite well since our 2015 report, in which primary care physicians earned an average of $195,000 and specialists earned an average of $284,000. The 2019 figures represent increases of 21.5% and 20%, respectively. Physician overall average salary for 2019 was $313,000.

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Medscape California Physician Compensation Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | July 23, 2019 | Contributor Information

The average physician salary in California, including primary care and specialties, is $308,000. In last year's report, primary care physicians in California earned $237,000, and specialists there earned considerably more: $319,000.

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Medscape California Physician Compensation Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | July 23, 2019 | Contributor Information

Self-employed physicians in California earn more than employed physicians. This is also true nationwide, and also in past years, according to Medscape's Physician Compensation Report 2019. In 2018, self-employed physicians in California earned $354,000; employed physicians earned $248,000.

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Medscape California Physician Compensation Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | July 23, 2019 | Contributor Information

Male primary care physicians in California earned 23% more than their female counterparts. This is less than the gender gap in salary for physicians overall, which was 25%, according to the Medscape Physician Compensation Report 2019. In 2018, the gap was 18% and in 2017, it was 16%.

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Medscape California Physician Compensation Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | July 23, 2019 | Contributor Information

Male specialists in California earned 32% more than their female peers, greater than the overall salary differences between all physicians. In 2017, the overall specialist pay gap saw male physicians earn 36% more than women.

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Medscape California Physician Compensation Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | July 23, 2019 | Contributor Information

Male physicians in California report seeing patients for 2 hours per week (6%) more than their female counterparts.

"The relationship between how many hours a physician sees patients and how much money they earn depends greatly on their practice arrangement," says Greg A. Hood, MD, a self-employed internist in Lexington, Kentucky, and a frequent Medscape contributor. "In a private practice, once you cover your overhead, you keep everything above that. So for someone who works an extra 3 hours a week seeing patients, the income from those 3 hours could be almost pure profit." However, the situation is somewhat different for employed physicians.

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Medscape California Physician Compensation Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | July 23, 2019 | Contributor Information

Male and female physicians in California spend the same amount of time on paperwork and administration per week. Overall, the majority of all physicians spend more than 10 hours per week on these tasks, and of those, more than a third spend over 20 hours.

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Medscape California Physician Compensation Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | July 23, 2019 | Contributor Information

More than half of California specialists and primary care physicians (56% and 54%, respectively) believe that they are fairly compensated. These averages are similar to physicians responding to last year's compensation survey in California (54% for both groups).

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Medscape California Physician Compensation Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | July 23, 2019 | Contributor Information

Physicians in California mirror doctors overall in this year's report, with more than 90% either satisfied or very satisfied with their job performance. "Doctors take great pride in what they do, even under difficult circumstances, and I would imagine that we all feel we do the best we can in spite of the challenges," says Carol Bernstein, MD, psychiatrist at NYU Langone Medical Center.

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Medscape California Physician Compensation Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | July 23, 2019 | Contributor Information

Nearly half of physicians in California reported that they use neither nurse practitioners (NPs) nor physician assistants (PAs) where they work. A slightly lower number employ NPs, and nearly one third include PAs as members of their staff. The numbers of practicing PAs and NPs are projected to grow by 4.3% and 6.8%, respectively, from 2016 to 2030, whereas the number of physicians is projected to grow 1.1% in that time frame.[1] (Note: Physicians were able to choose more than one response.)

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Medscape California Physician Compensation Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | July 23, 2019 | Contributor Information

Although Medicare reimbursement is lower than that of many private insurers, the majority of physicians in California are not planning to cut back on these patients. In 2016, over 56 million people were enrolled in the Medicare program—most because of their age, whereas the others were Medicare beneficiaries because of various disabilities.[2]

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Medscape California Physician Compensation Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | July 23, 2019 | Contributor Information

Physicians in California are pretty aligned with their national counterparts when it comes to net worth. More than half of physicians in the state report their net worth as more than $1 million.

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Medscape California Physician Compensation Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | July 23, 2019 | Contributor Information

Whereas nearly 60% of male physicians report a net worth of more than $1 million, only 44% of their female counterparts report the same. More female than male physicians in California report net worth of $1 million or less.

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Medscape California Physician Compensation Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | July 23, 2019 | Contributor Information

Having a comfortable home is usually considered important to one's well-being. To achieve that, many physicians have taken out sizable mortgages. However, these mortgages are fairly standard for physicians and other high-income professionals, says Joel Greenwald, MD, CFP, of Greenwald Financial Management, St Louis Park, Minnesota.

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Medscape California Physician Compensation Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | July 23, 2019 | Contributor Information

About 63% of California physicians said they saw no significant financial loss in 2019, similar to the overall physician average of 64%. Of those who did, bad investments and practice issues were cited more often.

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Medscape California Physician Compensation Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | July 23, 2019 | Contributor Information

Nearly half of California physicians said they never made an investment mistake or even made an investment at all. Stocks were cited as the largest source of loss, followed by other investments that did not work out.

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Medscape California Physician Compensation Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | July 23, 2019 | Contributor Information

Only a small percentage of California physicians say they live above their means. "It's uncertain whether people are always the best judge of whether they are living within their means or not," says Greenwald. "We use a rule of thumb that physicians should be saving 20% of their gross income for retirement. If they are saving that amount or more, they're within their means."

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Medscape California Physician Compensation Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | July 23, 2019 | Contributor Information

As in Medscape's previous reports, mortgages and car payments are among the major expenses for physicians. "Overspending is fairly common; doctors are paying back school debt, saving for retirement, saving for their children's college, and living the lifestyle they feel they deserve after all the years of training and the hard work they are putting in now," says Greenwald.

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Medscape California Physician Compensation Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | July 23, 2019 | Contributor Information

Whereas a majority of physicians pool money with their spouses for common expenses, 26% of California physicians say they don't have joint finances with a spouse or partner. Among all households across the United States, 63% of couples shared at least one credit card. Among millennials, 60% say they keep some or all credit cards separate, compared with 55% of Gen Xers and 48% of baby boomers.[3]

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Medscape California Physician Compensation Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | July 23, 2019 | Contributor Information

About 64% of California physicians are impressive savers, putting more than $1000 per month into tax-deferred accounts. The percentage of physicians overall saving over $2000 per month in a tax-deferred account rose from 33% in our last report to 38% this year. For context, the average personal savings rate in the United States was 7.6% in 2018.

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Medscape California Physician Compensation Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | July 23, 2019 | Contributor Information

Typically, there is a limit to how much one can put into a tax-deferred savings account, and many physicians are also saving outside of their tax-deferred account. However, about one third of physicians don't save money in a taxable account.

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Medscape California Physician Compensation Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | July 23, 2019 | Contributor Information

"Many docs don't have a formal budget and they do just fine," says Greenwald. "Some physicians without a formal budget are inherently frugal, and spending money on 'things' is not what brings them pleasure. I get back to the rule of thumb. We tell clients that if they are saving 20% of their gross income for retirement (more is better, but 20% is fine), then we don't care what they choose to spend the rest of their money on."

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Medscape California Physician Compensation Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | July 23, 2019 | Contributor Information

For physicians in California (25%), as for physicians overall (26%), having so many rules and regulations is the most challenging part of their job. Physicians in California also had similar frustrations with difficult patients.

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Medscape California Physician Compensation Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | July 23, 2019 | Contributor Information

Physicians overall (29%) found gratitude from and relationships with patients to be the most rewarding part of their job. California physicians also noted this as the most satisfying element of their work, followed closely by being very good at what they do and knowing they are making the world a better place.

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Medscape California Physician Compensation Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | July 23, 2019 | Contributor Information

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