Half of Gastroenterologists Feel Fairly Compensated

Marcia Frellick

May 28, 2020

Just more than half of all gastroenterologists (52%) reported they feel fairly compensated in the Medscape Gastroenterologist Compensation Report 2020.

By comparison, oncologists were the specialists most likely to say they were fairly paid (67%) and nephrologists were the least likely to say they were (44%).

For gastroenterologists, pay was up only slightly from $417,000 last year to $419,000, but the specialists remain near the top of all physicians in compensation.

The top four specialties in terms of pay were the same this year as they were last year and ranked in the same order: orthopedists made the most, at $511,000, followed by plastic surgeons, at $479,000, otolaryngologists, at $455,000, and cardiologists, at $438,000.

Physicians in public health/preventive medicine and pediatricians made the least at $232,000.

COVID-19 Interrupts Pay Trajectory

However, this survey reflects responses gathered between October 4 of last year and February 10 of this year, which was before the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic set in.

By April, 55% of medical practices reported a drop in revenue along with a drop in patient volume of 60%, according to a report from the Medical Group Management Association.

This year's survey was the first to ask about incentive bonuses; gastroenterologists reported averaging $63,000. That's about 15% of their income, slightly higher than the 13% average among all physicians who received bonuses. More than half (56%) of physicians receive incentive bonuses.

The incentives appeared to have a bigger influence on hours worked in gastroenterology than among physicians overall. While one third of physicians overall said the bonuses encouraged them to work longer hours, 40% of gastroenterologists said that was the case.

Gastroenterologists spent a bit more time on face-to-face interactions with patients than the 37.9 hours per week physicians overall averaged. Male gastroenterologists averaged 42.5 hours per week with patients whereas their female counterparts spent 38.3 hours.

Gastroenterologists spent 14.3 hours a week on paperwork, just below the 15.6 hours physicians overall spent on such tasks. Intensivists spent the most time on paperwork (19.1 hours a week) while ophthalmologists spent the least (9.8 hours a week).

Half the Gender Pay Gap of Other Specialists

This year, as in previous years, male gastroenterologists earned more than their female counterparts. Men made $430,000 vs $375,000 for the women, though this gap at 15% is half the size of the 31% gender gap in pay for specialists overall.

Gastroenterologists ranked near the middle in terms of money lost when claims are denied or sent back for submission. Sixteen percent fell into that category. For comparison, plastic surgeons reported the highest percentages of such claims (28%) and ophthalmologists reported the lowest at 13%.

A previous study found that about 63% of denied claims can be recovered, but that healthcare professionals spend about $118 on each claim.

Most gastroenterologists reported they employed either nurse practitioners (53%) or physician assistants (37%) in their practice; 34% said their practice included neither.

As to the advance-practice providers' effect on the bottom line, 52% of gastroenterologists reported NPs and PAs increased profitability and 44% they had no effect.

The large majority of gastroenterologists said they would choose medicine again (80%). Of those, 91% said they would choose their specialty again (91%). For comparison, orthopedists were the most likely to choose their specialty again (97%) and internists were the least likely to say they would (66%).

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