Compensation: Are Physicians Better Off Now Than 6 Years Ago?

Carol Peckham


April 01, 2016

In This Article

What's Happening to Physician Practices?

The Rise of the Employed Physician

This year, as in all previous Medscape compensation reports, both self-employed and employed male physicians earn more ($341,000 and $277,000, respectively) than their female counterparts ($261,000 and $217,000, respectively). The percentage differences in earnings between men and women do not vary much between self-employed (31%) and employed (28%) physicians. However, when looking at employed PCPs, for whom the playing field is more even, men still earn 15% more than women.

Employed physicians say they're glad they don't have the business responsibilities of employed physicians, One negative to employment is lower average income. PCPs make $207,000, only slightly less than their self-employed peers ($229,000). Self-employed specialists earn much more than employed specialists; both groups earn more than PCPs. Compared with last year's Medscape compensation report, however, employed PCPs experienced the highest percentage compensation increase (10%) vs self-employed PCPs (8%) and all specialists (6%).

Nevertheless, physicians who answered this survey and are employed, both men and women, had much higher satisfaction rates with their compensation than those who were self-employed. Almost three quarters (72%) of employed women compared with only 23% of self-employed women felt fairly compensated, as did 59% of employed men compared with 35% of those who are self-employed (Figure 3).

Figure 3. Physicians Who Feel Fairly Compensated

In this year's Medscape report, as in last year's, more women than men were employed (72% and 59%, respectively). Thirty-five percent of men and 23% of women were self-employed. The percentages were virtually identical to those reported last year.

Younger physicians in particular are heading toward employment rather than private practice. Reasons for this include a reluctance to deal with the business side of medicine and a desire for a predictable work schedule.[9] In the current Medscape report, at least 90% of those aged 34 years or younger are employed, and over three quarters (77%) of those between 35 and 39 years of age work for others (Figure 4). According to an American Medical Association report, practice ownership went down from 61% in 2007-2008 to 53% in 2012. Ownership was highest among surgical subspecialties and lowest in pediatrics, emergency medicine, and family medicine.[10]

Figure 4. Employment, by Age


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