Endocrinologists' Pay Near Bottom; Almost Half Joined ACOs

Marcia Frellick

April 04, 2016

Average pay for US endocrinologists increased 5% to $206,000 this year, but their income ranking among specialists dropped to second to last, trailing only pediatricians, according to this year's Medscape Compensation Report.

The 5% increase was just below average for all specialists. At the top were internists and rheumatologists, each with a 12% gain. At the bottom were pulmonologists and allergists, whose pay dropped by 5% and 11%, respectively.

Again this year, orthopedics was the highest-paid specialty, at an average per annum income of $443,000, and cardiology was second, clocking in at $410,000.

When endocrinologists were asked whether they would choose their specialty again, only 45% said yes, which represents a steep drop from 2011 when 68% answered that way. The number who would choose medicine again went from 69% in 2011 to 60% this year. The steepest drop, however, came among those who would choose the same practice setting. Only 21% said yes, down from 53% in 2011.

Interest in accountable-care organizations (ACOs) continued to rise dramatically, and this year endocrinologists' participation increased from 32% to 43%. That puts them substantially above the average for all physicians participating in ACOs, which hit 33% in 2016.

Number of Women Endocrinologists Climbing, as Is Paperwork

Endocrinologists ranked seventh of 26 specialties in the survey for percentage of women physicians (36%), well above the national women physician average of 31%.

And a recent Medscape Medical News story shows evidence that those numbers will rise further, detailing a study led by Elaine Pelley, MD, from the division of endocrinology, diabetes, and metabolism at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, in Madison. She and her colleagues found that about 70% of current endocrinology fellows training in the United States are women.

The shift could have implications for pay and for a projected shortage of endocrinologists, they said, noting that specialties that are predominantly women tend to pay less overall and women physicians are more likely to work part time.

In this year's survey, 13% of female endocrinologists reported they work part time, nearly three times the percentage of their male peers who worked part time (5%). Part time is defined here as working less than 40 hours per week.

Regarding hours worked, the time spent on paperwork or bureaucratic tasks is increasing for all physicians and continues to be the number-one cause of physician burnout, according to this year's Medscape Lifestyle Report.

Among endocrinologists responding to this year's survey, 75% of those who are self-employed and 64% of those employed spend 10 hours or more per week on paperwork and administrative tasks; 23% of the self-employed and 19% of the employed spend more than 20 hours a week on these duties.

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