Endocrinology Pay Steadily Climbs, Gender Gap Closes

Nancy A. Melville

June 01, 2023

Endocrinologists report steady increases in pay in the Medscape Endocrinologist Compensation Report 2023, but more doctors dropped insurers that pay the least compared with last year, and only about two thirds of respondents say they would choose medicine again as a career if given the chance.

In the survey of more than 10,000 physicians in over 29 specialties, endocrinologists' annual salaries were up by about 4% from last year's average of $257,000, to $267,000.

Those earnings still place them in the lowest five specialties in terms of pay, above infectious diseases, family medicine, pediatrics and public health and preventive medicine. The latter is at the bottom of the list, with average annual earnings of $249,000.

Conversely, the top three specialties were plastic surgery, at an average of $619,000 per annum, followed by orthopedics, at $573,000, and cardiology, at $507,000.

Specialties in which the most significant changes in annual compensation occurred were led by oncology, with a 13% increase from 2022, followed by gastroenterology, with an 11% increase. On the opposite end, ophthalmologists experienced a 7% decline in earnings, while emergency medicine had a 6% decrease from 2022.

Since Medscape's 2015 report, annual salaries for endocrinologists have increased by 36%. Similar patterns in compensation increases since 2015 occurred across all specialties. In contrast to some other specialties, endocrinologists did not experience a significant decline in earnings during the pandemic.

Across all specialties, men still earned more than women in the 2023 report ― with a gap of 19% ($386,000 vs $300,000). However, there appears to be progress, as the difference represents the lowest gender pay gap in 5 years.

This gradual improvement should likely continue as awareness of pay discrepancies grows and new generations emerge, said Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber, MD, president of the American Medical Women's Association and professor of medicine at AU/USA Medical Partnership, in Athens, Georgie, in the report.

"Due to efforts by many, some institutions and healthcare organizations have reviewed their salary lines and recognized the discrepancies not only between the sexes but also between new hires" and more established workers, she explained in the report.

"[The new hires] can be offered significantly more than those more senior physicians who have been working there for years and hired under a different pay structure," she noted.

Nearly half of endocrinologists (45%) reported taking on extra work outside of their profession, up from 39% in the 2022 report. Among them, 31% reported other medical-related work, 8% reported "medical moonlighting," 7% reported non-medical-related work, and 2% added more hours to their primary job as a physician.

Endocrinologists were in the lowest third of specialties in terms of their impressions of fair compensation, with only 45% reporting that they felt adequately paid. On the lowest end was infectious disease, with only 35% feeling their compensation is fair. By contrast, the highest response, 68%, was among psychiatrists.

Nevertheless, 85% of endocrinologists report that they would choose the same specialty again if given the chance. Responses ranged from 61% in internal medicine to 97% in plastic surgery.

Of note, fewer ― 71% of endocrinologists ― responded that they would choose medicine again, down from the 76% of endocrinologists who answered yes to the same question in 2022. At the bottom of the list was emergency medicine, with only 61% saying they would choose medicine again. The highest rates were in dermatology, at 86%, and allergy and immunology, at 84%.

In terms of time spent seeing patients, endocrinologists are more likely to see patients less than 30 hours per week, at 24%, compared with physicians overall, at 19%; 61% of endocrinologists report seeing patients 30 to 40 hours per week, vs 53% of all physicians.

Only 12% report seeing patients 41 to 50 hours per week, compared with 16% of all physicians. And 4% reported seeing patients 51 hours or more weekly, vs 11% of physicians overall.

The proportion of endocrinologists who reported that they would drop insurers that pay the least was notably up in the current report, at 25%, vs just 15% in the 2022 report; 22% indicated they would not drop insurers because "I need all payers"; 16% said no because "it's inappropriate"; and the remainder responded no for other reasons.

Overall, the leading response by physicians for the most rewarding aspects of their job were "being good at what I am doing/finding answers, diagnoses," reported by 32%, followed by "gratitude from/relationships with patients" (24%) and "making the world a better place (eg, helping others)," at 22%.

Conversely, the most challenging aspect, described by 20%, is "having so many rules and regulations," followed by "difficulties getting fair reimbursement from or dealing with Medicare and/or other insurers (17%)."

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