Pediatricians' Pay Increases 7%; Still Lowest Among Specialists

Marcia Frellick

April 04, 2016

Since 2011, the numbers of pediatricians who would choose their own specialty again have dropped from 62% to 46%, according to the latest Medscape compensation report. The drop was even steeper for those who would choose the same practice setting, going from 52% in 2011 to 29% this year.

A recent story reported by Medscape Medical News found that dissatisfaction in the specialty starts early. A survey of 840 pediatricians in the first 10 years of their careers found that 30% reported burnout and only 43% reported a satisfying work–life balance.

Still, the numbers who would choose medicine again (68%) were among the highest reported by specialists. Family medicine physicians were highest for choosing medicine again, at 73%, and plastic surgeons were lowest, at 47%.

Pediatricians remain the lowest-paid physician specialty in this year's report, but they did see an above-average gain in pay among specialties of 7%.

When asked the reasons for the gains, many said they had an increase in patient volume (26% said they saw more patients because of the Affordable Care Act) or more working hours or productivity. Other bumps in pay came from raises or changing jobs.

The 7% gains were midlevel, in contrast to a surprise jump in compensation of 12% for internal medicine and rheumatology. Travis Singleton, senior vice president of national physician search firm Merritt Hawkins, linked the 12% rise for internal medicine to the migration of internists to hospital medicine, which has shrunk the candidate pool. Also, "over 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day, driving demand for internists — and their compensation — higher," he said.

Male pediatricians substantially outearned their female counterparts, as they have in all other years; this time $230,000 to $182,000. Singleton said this is likely because of the preponderance of women with young children who prefer working flexible schedules. In fact, 28% of women who responded reported that they work part time (defined in the survey as less than 40 hours a week) compared with 13% for men.

Pediatrician compensation was less than half that of the two most highly paid specialties: orthopedics ($443,000) and cardiology ($410,000). Still, 52% of pediatricians said they were fairly compensated, a level that falls midway between dermatologists, of whom 66% said they were fairly compensated, and urologists, at 42%.

The highest pediatric salaries again this year were in the single-specialty office setting, with $221,000. Multispecialty office settings moved up to the number two spot this year, with salaries at $207,000, up from the number four ranking and $190,000 average last year.

"Medscape Pediatrician Compensation Report 2016." Medscape. Published online April 1, 2016. Full text

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