Physicians in Milwaukee had the highest average compensation in 2020, while physicians in San Antonio had the lowest, according to a new report from Doximity, a professional medical network for physicians.
The 2020 U.S. Physician Compensation Report is based on responses from about 44,000 licensed physicians who practiced at least 40 hours a week in 2019 and 2020. Those responses were mapped across metropolitan statistical areas and ranked by the total number of respondents.
Doximity controlled for a variety of factors, including differences in geography and specialty, as well as how long providers have practiced medicine and their reported average hours worked each week.
Highest- and lowest-paying specialties
Overall, Doximity found that compensation for physicians in the United States increased on average by 1.5% from 2019 to 2020. However, when compared with the Consumer Price Index's 2019 headline inflation rate of 2.3%, Doximity reports that the data suggest physicians experienced a decline of "real income" on average during that time.
When examining compensation by specialty, the researchers found that neurosurgeons were the physician specialists with the highest compensation in 2020, while preventive medicine providers had the lowest.
Highest- and lowest-paying metropolitan areas
Doximity also ranked the metropolitan areas where physicians received the highest compensation in 2020 and found that physicians in Milwaukee topped the list, with an average compensation of $430,274. Meanwhile, San Antonio had the lowest levels of compensation for physicians.
Gender wage gap
Doximity also found that the gender wage gap among physicians increased from 25.2% in last year's report to 28% in 2020, with female doctors earning an average of $116,289 less than their male counterparts.
Covid-19's impact on compensation growth
While Doximity did not draw any direct correlations, the report highlights the impact that the new coronavirus epidemic has had on hospital and physician practices' finances, noting that it "has touched every facet of American life, but has especially impacted the nation's health care system."
As a result of the epidemic, "[m]any hospitals and private medical practices have seen steep declines in billings, as the [epidemic] has resulted in an enormous wave of delayed or canceled elective medical procedures and treatments," the report states.
"This year's report shows how significantly the Covid-19 [epidemic] is impacting the health care industry," Peter Alperin, VP of Doximity, said. "By continuing to track this data over a multi-year timeframe, our hope is to assist key stakeholders in understanding employment trends taking shape in the health care system" (Doximity release, 10/29; Doximity 2020 Physician Compensation Report, October 2020; Reed, FierceHealthcare, 10/29).