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September 27, 2022

Charted: How young doctors feel about their pay, jobs, and more

Daily Briefing

    Although compensation for young physicians has increased by around $20,000 since last year, only a little over half said they are satisfied with their pay, and around a third said they would not choose medicine again, according to Medscape's "2022 Young Physician Compensation Report."

    How young physicians are being compensated

    For the report, researchers surveyed 13,064 physicians in more than 29 specialties between Oct. 5, 2021, and Jan. 19, 2022, about their compensation, level of satisfaction practicing medicine, and more. Of the respondents, almost 2,000 physicians were under the age of 40.

    According to the report, physician income has largely rebounded after declining or stagnating during the pandemic. Overall physician compensation was $339,000, with PCPs earning $260,000 and specialists earning $368,000.

    Physicians under 40 also saw their compensation increase, with their overall earnings averaging $293,000 in 2021 compared with $272,000 in 2020. Among young PCPs, earnings averaged $214,000, and young specialists averaged $324,000. However, young physicians continue to earn an average of 15% less than physicians overall.

    The report also found that there continues to be a significant gender pay gap among young physicians. Although young, male physicians earned an average of $337,000, young, female physicians only earned an average of $246,000—or roughly 37% less.

    When it comes to different practice settings, the report found that young physicians earned the most in office-based single-specialty group practices and the least in outpatient clinics.

    Overall, only 54% of young physicians said they were satisfied with their compensation. According to a young internist, there has been "[n]o change in compensation or work hours, but more workload load because of the pandemic."

    How young physicians feel about their jobs

    In general, the report found that roughly 60% of physicians, both younger and older, spend between 30 and 45 hours a week seeing patients.

    When it came to paperwork and administrative tasks, over 70% of young physicians said they spent more than 10 hours a week on such activities. In addition, the portion of young physicians who reported spending 20 or more hours on bureaucratic activities (38%) has roughly doubled since 2016 (18%).

    When asked about the most rewarding part of their job, 27% of young physicians listed gratitude from and relationships with their patients. Other common answers included being good at what they do, knowing that they are making the world a better place, and making good money at a job they like.

    When it came to the top challenges of their job, young physicians listed difficult patients (22%), long work hours (19%) and having so many rules and regulations (18%). Young physicians also worried about being sued and faced difficulties with reimbursement, as well as EHR systems.

    When asked whether they would choose a career in medicine again, 68% of young physicians said yes, down from 76% who said the same in Medscape's prior report. In comparison, older physicians seemed to be more content with their careers, with 74% saying they would choose medicine again.

    Among the different specialties, ophthalmologists were most likely to say they would choose medicine again at 83%, followed by cardiologists at 76%, and gastroenterologists at 73%. In comparison, the specialties that were least likely to choose medicine again were pathology (51%), emergency medicine (55%), and physical medicine/rehabilitation (55%).

    (Bean, Becker's Hospital Review, 9/23; Koval, Medscape, 9/23)

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