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Medscape General Surgeon Compensation Report 2020

Keith L. Martin | May 20, 2020 | Contributor Information

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, physicians have been struggling through intense challenges caring for patients while trying to protect their own and their families' health and well-being.

Doctors' most critical concerns are those involving life and death. Still, while confronting this crisis, salary and income are important to one's career and livelihood.

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Medscape General Surgeon Compensation Report 2020

Keith L. Martin | May 20, 2020 | Contributor Information

The health impact of COVID-19 has been grave, and the financial fallout is widespread.

Many physician offices have closed or have greatly reduced their hours. Hospitals, clinics, and large groups throughout the nation are laying off staff and cutting salaries. Specialties that relied upon elective procedures have lost much or most of their business. Those include, but are not limited to, orthopedics, plastic surgery, dermatology, cardiology, and ophthalmology.

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Medscape General Surgeon Compensation Report 2020

Keith L. Martin | May 20, 2020 | Contributor Information

The data for this year's Compensation Report were collected prior to February 10, 2020, and reflect physician salary and income prior to the COVID-19 crisis. Physicians told us about their incentive bonuses, income, hours worked, greatest challenges, what gives them satisfaction, and more.

Survey respondents reported their compensation for patient care. For employed physicians, that includes salary, bonus, and profit-sharing contributions. For self-employed physicians, it includes earnings after taxes and deductible business expenses, before income tax. Only full-time salaries are included in our results. This report includes responses from more than 17,000 physicians in over 30 specialties.

General surgeons are among the middle earners of all physicians. Their income is about the same as last year's average of $362,000 for their specialty.

(Note: Label values on charts have been rounded, but rankings and calculations are based on raw data to avoid rounding errors.)

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Medscape General Surgeon Compensation Report 2020

Keith L. Martin | May 20, 2020 | Contributor Information

More than half of physician respondents (56%) said they have an incentive bonus. General surgeons' average annual bonuses are 11% of the average total salary for their specialty, similar to that of physicians overall (13%). (Results are shown only for specialties where sample sizes are sufficient.)

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Medscape General Surgeon Compensation Report 2020

Keith L. Martin | May 20, 2020 | Contributor Information

About 64% of general surgeons achieve more than three quarters of their potential annual incentive bonus. On average, general surgeons achieve 67% of their potential bonus, the same percentage as for physicians overall.

Michael Belkin, JD, divisional vice president at Merritt Hawkins, a national physician recruiting firm, said that most physicians don't earn their entire potential incentive bonus, partly due to the fact that employers are concerned with Stark Law prohibitions against self-referral and want to build in "safe harbor" provisions that protect them from possible penalty. As a result, they may cap the incentive that a physician can earn.

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Medscape General Surgeon Compensation Report 2020

Keith L. Martin | May 20, 2020 | Contributor Information

Close to one third of physicians overall who have incentive bonuses said the prospect of the bonus has encouraged them to work longer hours. Similarly for general surgeons, 29% said their potential incentive bonus influenced them to increase their work hours.

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Medscape General Surgeon Compensation Report 2020

Keith L. Martin | May 20, 2020 | Contributor Information

Male general surgeons earn about 18% more than their female peers. Among all specialists, men earn 31% more than women, similar to last year's figure of 33%. There is a 25% gender pay gap among primary care physicians, the same as in last year's report.

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Medscape General Surgeon Compensation Report 2020

Keith L. Martin | May 20, 2020 | Contributor Information

Among all physicians, the average time spent seeing patients is 37.9 hours per week. This is a bit less than the amount of time general surgeons—both men and women—spend on face-to-face interactions.

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Medscape General Surgeon Compensation Report 2020

Keith L. Martin | May 20, 2020 | Contributor Information

On average, general surgeons spend 15.8 hours per week on paperwork and administration, about the same as do physicians overall (15.6 hours). Intensivists top the list regarding such tasks, followed by internists, infectious disease physicians, and physiatrists. Ophthalmologists and anesthesiologists reported the least amount of time. (Results are shown only for specialties where sample sizes are sufficient.)

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Medscape General Surgeon Compensation Report 2020

Keith L. Martin | May 20, 2020 | Contributor Information

At 19%, general surgeons rank toward the upper end of physicians potentially losing money on denied or resubmitted claims. One study found that, on average, 63% of denied claims are recoverable, but healthcare professionals spend about $118 per claim on appeals. (Results are shown only for specialties where sample sizes are sufficient.)

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Medscape General Surgeon Compensation Report 2020

Keith L. Martin | May 20, 2020 | Contributor Information

About 4 in 10 general surgeons said their practice uses physician assistants to treat patients. Three in 10 said they use nurse practitioners, while close to half said they don't employ either role for patient care. (Respondents could select more than one answer.)

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Medscape General Surgeon Compensation Report 2020

Keith L. Martin | May 20, 2020 | Contributor Information

Of general surgeons who work with PAs and NPs at their offices, 39% said they helped increase profitability, while 54% said these employees have had no effect on profitability. Physicians overall who use PAs and NPs were evenly split (47% each) on whether these employees have increased profitability or have had no effect on it.

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Medscape General Surgeon Compensation Report 2020

Keith L. Martin | May 20, 2020 | Contributor Information

Eighty-four percent of general surgeons have no plans to stop services to Medicare and Medicaid patients, greater than the percentage of physicians overall (73%). (Respondents could select more than one answer.)

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Medscape General Surgeon Compensation Report 2020

Keith L. Martin | May 20, 2020 | Contributor Information

The majority of general surgeons rely on payers. Forty-six percent rely on fee-for-service and 30% on accountable care organizations for patient-based income. (Respondents could select more than one answer.)

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Medscape General Surgeon Compensation Report 2020

Keith L. Martin | May 20, 2020 | Contributor Information

A far larger percentage of general surgeons expect to participate in the Merit-based Incentive Payment System option of value-based care versus alternative payment models.

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Medscape General Surgeon Compensation Report 2020

Keith L. Martin | May 20, 2020 | Contributor Information

About a quarter (27%) of physicians overall noted gratitude from and relationships with patients as the main factor for their career satisfaction. A slightly larger percentage of general surgeons (29%) said the same, while a quarter cited being very good at what they do and about a fifth said making the world a better place is their top reward.

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Medscape General Surgeon Compensation Report 2020

Keith L. Martin | May 20, 2020 | Contributor Information

For general surgeons, having so many rules and regulations is the primary challenge when caring for patients.

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Medscape General Surgeon Compensation Report 2020

Keith L. Martin | May 20, 2020 | Contributor Information

Fifty-eight percent of general surgeons said they felt fairly compensated, up somewhat from last year's percentage (52%).

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Medscape General Surgeon Compensation Report 2020

Keith L. Martin | May 20, 2020 | Contributor Information

If they could go back in time, 77% of general surgeons would still choose a career in medicine, the same percentage as for physicians overall.

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Medscape General Surgeon Compensation Report 2020

Keith L. Martin | May 20, 2020 | Contributor Information

Of general surgeons who said they would choose medicine again, 84% said they would remain in the specialty—at the middle of the pack compared to physicians overall.

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Medscape General Surgeon Compensation Report 2020

Keith L. Martin | May 20, 2020 | Contributor Information

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Medscape General Surgeon Compensation Report 2020

Keith L. Martin | May 20, 2020 | Contributor Information

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Medscape General Surgeon Compensation Report 2020

Keith L. Martin | May 20, 2020 | Contributor Information

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Medscape Physician Compensation Report 2020

More than 17,000 physicians told us about their salary, incentive bonus, and denied claims, and how they feel about their career in medicine.Medscape Features Slideshow, May 2020
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