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Medscape Public Health and Preventive Medicine Physician Compensation Report 2022: Incomes Gain, Pay Gaps Remain

Jon McKenna | May 13, 2022 | Contributor Information

Physicians fared better financially this year than in the height of the pandemic but still struggled with tough workloads, long hours, and difficult situations.

More than 13,000 physicians in 29+ specialties told us how their compensation fared, how they supplement their income, and how they feel about being a physician. Employed physicians revealed their 2021 income from patient care services including salary, bonus, and profit-sharing. Self-employed physicians reported their earnings after taxes and deductible business expenses, but before income taxes. We analyzed compensation for full-time physicians only.

Note: Some totals in this report do not equal 100% owing to rounding.

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Medscape Public Health and Preventive Medicine Physician Compensation Report 2022: Incomes Gain, Pay Gaps Remain

Jon McKenna | May 13, 2022 | Contributor Information

Public health and preventive medicine (PH/PM) physicians' average income rose from our last report ($237K), when COVID-19 took a greater toll on medical practices' finances overall.

"Compensation for most physicians is trending back up as demand for physicians accelerates," says James Taylor, group president and chief operating officer of AMN Healthcare's Physician & Leadership Solutions division. "The market for physicians has done a complete 180 over just 7 or 8 months."

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Medscape Public Health and Preventive Medicine Physician Compensation Report 2022: Incomes Gain, Pay Gaps Remain

Jon McKenna | May 13, 2022 | Contributor Information

PH/PM physicians' average compensation rose about 3% from our prior-year report. PH/PM physicians finished toward the bottom of the 29+ specialties we surveyed, in terms of 2021 income gains. The annual US inflation rate rose to 4.7% last year, which affected physicians' purchasing power.

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Medscape Public Health and Preventive Medicine Physician Compensation Report 2022: Incomes Gain, Pay Gaps Remain

Jon McKenna | May 13, 2022 | Contributor Information

This chart applies to physicians overall. As for specialists, while the gender gap has narrowed in recent years, male specialists on average earned 31% more than their female counterparts in 2021. For primary care physicians (PCPs), the gender gap was 25%.

Women physicians gravitating to specialties — particularly higher-paying specialties — have helped close the gender gap somewhat. "A great many of the specialty organizations have efforts underway not just to increase the number of women in specialties but also to address gender pay gaps in evaluations during residency and fellowship," notes Ron Holder, chief operating officer of the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA).

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Medscape Public Health and Preventive Medicine Physician Compensation Report 2022: Incomes Gain, Pay Gaps Remain

Jon McKenna | May 13, 2022 | Contributor Information

PH/PM physicians most often pointed to nonphysician practitioners as a source of competition. Physicians overall also cited nonphysician practitioners. (Respondents could choose more than one answer.)

"The Arkansas Legislature made independent practice legal for certified registered nurse anesthetists, so we are no longer needed."

"Our hospital changed groups so they can make more money."

"Hospitals are hiring primary care physicians and forcing referrals to hospital physicians."

"Urgent care clinics are our competition."

Competition may heat up even more in coming years for PCPs, because Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, and Amazon plan to build new or larger retail clinics that will offer many aspects of traditional primary care.

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Medscape Public Health and Preventive Medicine Physician Compensation Report 2022: Incomes Gain, Pay Gaps Remain

Jon McKenna | May 13, 2022 | Contributor Information

Since 2015, average physician compensation has risen 29% overall, while compensation is up 33% for PCPs and 30% for specialists. Rising salaries help everyone get back on track by covering living costs and keeping up with inflation.

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Medscape Public Health and Preventive Medicine Physician Compensation Report 2022: Incomes Gain, Pay Gaps Remain

Jon McKenna | May 13, 2022 | Contributor Information

Thirty-five percent of PH/PM physicians are managing to take on extra work, usually by adding responsibilities to their medical workload. A few even have side hustles outside of medicine. (Respondents could choose more than one answer.) PH/PM physicians took on extra work at about the same rate as physicians in general (36%).

"Physicians are fortunate to have a huge array of potential side gigs available to them," says Sylvie Stacy, MD, MPH, author of 50 Nonclinical Careers for Physicians. "Supplemental income that pays well is not difficult to find." She points to interest in early retirement and greater financial independence, and high levels of student debt, as factors.

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Medscape Public Health and Preventive Medicine Physician Compensation Report 2022: Incomes Gain, Pay Gaps Remain

Jon McKenna | May 13, 2022 | Contributor Information

Getting paid well is one thing; feeling paid well can be another. Despite reporting the lowest compensation among physicians overall, PH/PM physicians came in at the top in terms of feeling fairly compensated for their work.

For physicians, the dollar figure may influence job satisfaction less than the methods used to calculate it, says James Taylor of AMN Healthcare. Production bonuses that effectively penalize physicians for seeing relatively sick patients or that track quality measures that don't seem relevant or meaningful can backfire. "That's one reason we are seeing a decline in a salary plus production bonus and an increase in straight salary," Taylor says.

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Medscape Public Health and Preventive Medicine Physician Compensation Report 2022: Incomes Gain, Pay Gaps Remain

Jon McKenna | May 13, 2022 | Contributor Information

The challenges of treating COVID patients, working during the pandemic, and the overall changing tone of medicine prompted a number of physicians to leave the profession and disenchanted many others. Still, physicians would be about as likely now to enter a medical career again as in 2011 (73% and 69%, respectively).

A similar percentage of PH/PM physicians said they would enter medicine again compared with last year's report (77%).

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Medscape Public Health and Preventive Medicine Physician Compensation Report 2022: Incomes Gain, Pay Gaps Remain

Jon McKenna | May 13, 2022 | Contributor Information

Many physicians love their specialty; dermatologists and orthopedists are among the top groups in our survey year after year. At the other end of the scale, this year's report found that family physicians and internists would be less willing than most other physicians to repeat their choice. About 8 in 10 PH/PM physicians said they'd choose their specialty again.

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Medscape Public Health and Preventive Medicine Physician Compensation Report 2022: Incomes Gain, Pay Gaps Remain

Jon McKenna | May 13, 2022 | Contributor Information

Overall, 17% of physicians in our study said they could or would drop low-paying insurers, while the other 83% said they couldn't do that for business, ethical, or other reasons. But situations differ, and the yes/no splits often varied between PH/PM physicians and other physicians.

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Medscape Public Health and Preventive Medicine Physician Compensation Report 2022: Incomes Gain, Pay Gaps Remain

Jon McKenna | May 13, 2022 | Contributor Information

How do the most rewarding aspects of PH/PM physicians' jobs (making the world a better place and being good at their work) compare with those of physicians overall? Patient relationships and being good at their work are highly valued by physicians overall, though in recent years they have increasingly emphasized making the world a better place.

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Medscape Public Health and Preventive Medicine Physician Compensation Report 2022: Incomes Gain, Pay Gaps Remain

Jon McKenna | May 13, 2022 | Contributor Information

For PH/PM physicians, the number of rules and regulations is the biggest challenge they face. Physicians overall point to the same.

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Medscape Public Health and Preventive Medicine Physician Compensation Report 2022: Incomes Gain, Pay Gaps Remain

Jon McKenna | May 13, 2022 | Contributor Information

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Medscape Public Health and Preventive Medicine Physician Compensation Report 2022: Incomes Gain, Pay Gaps Remain

Jon McKenna | May 13, 2022 | Contributor Information

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