Endocrinologists Want Better Pay, Survey Finds

Miriam E Tucker

April 14, 2017

Endocrinology is the third lowest-paid medical specialty, according to the Medscape Physician Compensation Report 2017, and endocrinologists are among those most likely to say they deserve more.

Overall, annual physician pay has risen from an average of $206,000 in the 2011 Medscape Compensation Report to $294,000 in 2017. However, endocrinologists averaged $220,000 in 2017, with only family medicine and pediatrics earning less ($209K and $202K, respectively). Topping the list were orthopaedics, at $489,000 and plastic surgery, at $440,000.

In response to a question about whether they feel fairly compensated, just 44% of endocrinologists answered affirmatively, ranking above only nephrologists, at 41%. Topping the list were emergency-medicine physicians, at 68%, and dermatologists, at 65%.

Asked how much more they believed they should earn annually, 43% of those who are dissatisfied with their current compensation endorsed pay raises of between 11% and 25% more, whereas 37% said they should be earning between 26% and 50% more than they currently make.

Still, endocrinologists' pay did rise by 7% since the 2016 report, which places them near the middle for change over the past year. Only pediatricians saw a drop in pay (−1%), whereas the top increases were reported in plastic surgery (24%) and allergy/immunology (16%).

Practice Parameters

In terms of benefits, most endocrinologists reported having health insurance (75%), professional liability coverage (74%), paid time off (68%), dental insurance (58%), retirement plan with employer match (55%), and vision insurance (51%). However, only half have life insurance, and fewer than half reported short-term or long-term disability insurance (43% and 41%, respectively).

Endocrinologists' participation in accountable care organizations was 44% in the current report, roughly the same as the 43% reported last year. Asked whether they plan to participate in the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (also known as MACRA), 40% said they did.

Participation in healthcare exchanges jumped among all physicians, from 19% in the 2016 report to 37% for 2017. Similarly, 36% of endocrinologists said they plan to participate this year, up from 21% in 2016. Another 20% said they would not participate, and 43% were undecided.

Health insurance exchanges did not seem to have had much effect on endocrinologists' pay, as 49% reported no change, and 31% said they had not participated in exchanges in 2016.

A majority of the endocrinologists (67%) reported spending 30 to 45 hours per week seeing patients, and the same percentage said they spent 17 minutes or more with each patient.

At the same time, however, 67% reported spending 10 or more hours per week on paperwork and administration, far exceeding the 56% proportion of physicians overall.

The Good and the Bad

Asked what is the most rewarding aspect of their jobs, 37% named "being very good at what I do/Finding answers, diagnoses," and another 37% said "Gratitude/relationships with patients." Only 6% endorsed "being proud of being a doctor," whereas 3% said they found nothing rewarding about their jobs.

Responses were divided about what endocrinologists said were the most challenging aspects of their job, with 26% naming "having so many rules and regulations," 23% "having to work longer hours for less money," and 15% "having to work with an [electronic health record] system." Smaller proportions endorsed "Dealing with difficult patients" (14%), "difficulties getting fair reimbursement from Medicare and/or other health insurers" (14%), and "worrying about being sued" (3%).

So would they do it over again? As far as choosing medicine as a career, 75% of the endocrinologists said they would, which was on the low end for that question compared with other specialties. In contrast, 83% of rheumatologists and 82% of psychiatrists would choose medicine again if they were starting out now; however, only 72% of obstetrician/gynecologists and 71% of neurologists would do the same.

As to whether they would pick endocrinology as a specialty again, 83% of endocrinologists said they would. That places them right about in the middle, below dermatologists (96%) and orthopaedic specialists (95%), but above family physicians (67%) and internists (64%).

The Medscape Compensation Report comprises online survey responses from 19,270 physicians from more than 27 medical specialties, recruited between December 20, 2016, and March 7, 2017. About 1%, or 193 respondents, listed themselves as endocrinologists.

Medscape Endocrinologist Compensation Report 2017. Published online April 12, 2017. Full text

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