By Jeremy Morris, Associate Editor, US Daily Review.
Physician compensation growth stagnated in 2011, according to a recent survey of physicians and healthcare providers conducted by The Medicus Firm, a national physician recruiting firm. Conversely, nurse practitioners and physician assistants reported increased incomes in 2011 as compared to 2010.
Conducted in April and May of 2012, this was the ninth annual physician compensation survey released by The Medicus Firm. Over 2,500 physicians from 18 specialties participated.
“This year, physicians reported the lowest year-over-year income growth we have seen in the history of our physician survey,” said Jim Stone, president. The average net change in physician compensation from 2010 to 2011 was a decrease of 1.70 percent.
This is the second consecutive year the average incomes have declined, but this year’s figures represented a greater decline than the previous year’s average net change of -0.14 percent from 2009 to 2010.
Even when specialties reported income growth, it was moderate. Specialties reporting growth include anesthesiology, hospitalists, neurosurgery, pulmonary medicine, and pediatrics.
Specialties reporting income declines include cardiology, gastroenterology, obstetrics/gynecology, and general surgery.
“As physicians’ income growth slows, it’s not surprising that their dissatisfaction with their pay grows,” Stone adds.
Only three percent of physicians indicated that their income exceeded their expectations. Thirty-two percent reported feeling “satisfied” with their income for the amount of work completed, down from 35 percent the previous year. Meanwhile, 63 percent of respondents were dissatisfied to some extent with their 2011 income, including 8.1 percent who report feeling significantly disappointed and unsure of their future.
Physicians also provided input about practice preferences, including regional location, town size, and practice structure.
Resident physicians coming out of training prefer hospital-employed practice opportunities (28 percent), while physicians already in practice prefer single-specialty group partnerships (31 percent) over hospital employed, which was the second most preferred practice structure for physicians in practice.
Additionally, new physicians are more focused on practicing in major metropolitan areas (35 percent) than experienced physicians (27 percent) who are more open to practicing in suburban, mid-sized, and smaller communities.
The survey also asked physicians to share their thoughts on healthcare reform as it relates to their practices, patient care, and healthcare in general. When asked if they oppose or support the current health reform legislation (PPACA), only 20 percent support it in its entirety, while 28 percent want it repealed, and 39 percent support parts of the law but want others scrapped.