Where doctors are paid the most (and the least), according to MGMA

Most physician specialties saw compensation increases between 2017 and 2018, according to a recent report from the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) published Thursday.

Report details

For the report, MGMA analyzed comparative data from more than 147,000 providers in more than 5,500 organizations. The data was based on voluntary responses to questionnaires from both MGMA member and nonmember practices.

The 5 highest paid physician specialties—and other findings

The report found that, in 2018, the five physician specialties with the highest total compensation were :

  1. Surgery: neurological—$883,020;
  2. Orthopedic surgery: Spine—$842,363;
  3. Dermatology: Mohs surgery—$805,374;
  4. Pediatrics: Neurological surgery—$779,154; and
  5. Pediatrics: Cardiovascular surgery—$747,477

The report also found that physicians in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States tended to have the highest compensation in 2018, while those in the Eastern region had the lowest.

According to the report, median total compensation for established providers increased overall by 3.4% between 2017 and 2018, with specialty physicians seeing a 4.4% compensation increase and advanced practice providers seeing a 2.9% compensation increase on average.

Among all specialties, hepatology saw the largest increase in compensation between 2017 and 2018, with a 38.09% increase.

The report also found that newly hired providers saw steady increases in median guaranteed compensation between 2017 and 2018. For example, median guaranteed compensation for:

  • Newly hired ED physicians grew from $207,360 to $291,194—an increase of 40.43%;
  • Newly hired cardiology physicians grew from $400,000 to $485,000—an increase of 21.25%; and
  • Newly hired urology physicians grew from $312,500 to $375,000—an increase of 20%.

Compensation for non-physician providers also increased, the report found, with physician assistants seeing a 10.35% increase and nurse practitioners seeing a 4% increase.

Comments

Halee Fischer-Wright, president and CEO of MGMA, said, "These compensation specifics allow medical practices to remain competitive and informed on the ever-evolving trends that continue to occur in the healthcare industry."

She added that the increases in compensation "are driven not only by supply and demand but also by an increase in productivity. Practices are staying ahead of the curve by monitoring these trends and in this case, offering higher wages and more incentives to attract and retain the talent they need" (O'Brien, HealthLeaders Media, 5/31; MGMA release, 5/30; MGMA Provider Compensation and Production Report, 5/30).

How you can attract and retain physician talent—without competing solely on compensation

Physician recruitment is not a new problem. But generational changes and rising expectations for physician performance make competition for physician talent feel increasingly intense today.

Though recruitment challenges are deep-rooted, organizations can take steps to ensure their physician recruiting process is as effective as possible. Read the report to learn the four requirements for successful recruitment in today’s competitive market.

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