COVID-19 Will Likely Change Docs’ Incentive Targets, Bonuses

Orthopedists Top Earners Again

The top four specialties were the same this year as they were last year and were 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.

Pediatricians and public health/preventive medicine physicians made the least, at $232,000, followed by family physicians ($234,000) and diabetes/endocrinology specialists ($236,000).

Despite the low ranking, public health/preventive medicine providers had the biggest compensation increase of all physicians, up 11% from last year. Two specialties saw a decrease: otolaryngology salaries dropped 1%, and dermatology pay dropped 2%. Pay in gastroenterology and diabetes/endocrinology was virtually unchanged from last year.

Kentucky Has Highest Pay

Ranked by state, physicians in Kentucky made the most on average ($346,000). Utah, Ohio, and North Carolina were new to the top 10 in physician pay this year, pushing out Connecticut, Arkansas, and Nevada.

More than half of all physicians receive incentive bonuses (58% of PCPs and 55% of specialists).

The average incentive bonus is 13% of salary, but that varies by specialty. Orthopedists got an average $96,000 bonus, whereas family physicians got $24,000.

According to the report, “Among physicians who have an incentive bonus, about a third of both PCPs and specialists say the prospect of an incentive bonus has encouraged them to work longer hours.”

Gender Gap Similar to Previous Year

Consistent with Medscape compensation reports over the past decade, this year’s report shows a large gender gap in pay. Among PCPs, men made 25% more than women ($264,000 vs $212,000); among specialists, they made 31% more than their female colleagues ($375,000 vs $286,000).

Some specialties report positive changes from growing awareness of the gap.

“Many organizations have been carefully analyzing their culture, transparency, and pay practices to make sure they aren’t unintentionally discriminating against any group of employees,” Halee Fischer-Wright, MD, pediatrician and CEO of MGMA, told Medscape Medical News.

She added that the growing physician shortage has given all physicians more leverage in salary demands and that increased recognition of the gender gap is giving women more confidence and more evidence to use in negotiations.

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