physician pay cuts


Combating Physician Pay Cuts and Burnout

Published May 12, 2023

Decreasing compensation, burnout, and pay parity challenges are just a few of the key findings in Doximity and Curative’s new 2023 Physician Compensation Report.

Decreasing compensation, burnout, and pay parity challenges are just a few of the key findings in Doximity and Curative’s new 2023 Physician Compensation Report. Decreasing compensation, burnout, and pay parity challenges are just a few of the key findings in Doximity and Curative’s new 2023 Physician Compensation Report. The report presents six years of self-reported data from American physicians, including more than 31,000 full-time doctors in 2022. Let’s take a look at some key takeaways regarding physician pay cuts. 

Slight Physician Pay Cuts

After reporting an average 3.8% increase in physician salaries in 2021, Doximity and Curative found a 2.4% decrease in compensation in 2022. The report also notes in its introduction that, this year, doctors will receive a 2% Medicare payment cut — the first in 20 years. It’s clear that physician salaries are not keeping up with the recent surge in inflation.

While economic strain was a reality for some doctors last year, there were some specialities that saw compensation growth in 2022. Emergency medicine (6.2%), pediatric infectious disease (6.9%), and pediatric rheumatology (4.2%) round out the top three in this category.

Location Matters

Geography is a critical factor in determining physician salaries. Charlotte, NC topped the list of highest average physician compensation ($430,890), followed closely by St. Louis, MO and Oklahoma City, OK. These three cities also accounted for the top three spots when adjusting for  cost of living. 

Where are doctors making less? Washington DC ($342,139) had the lowest average salary of all of the nation's major metro areas, followed by Baltimore, MD and Boston, MA. All three of these east coast cities also appear in the top five positions in the report’s list of places with the lowest salary levels when adjusting for cost of living. 

In stark contrast to 2021, last year also saw average compensation growth-by-city slow. Oklahoma City, OK (6.3%) leads the pack in this category, followed by Baltimore, MD (4.6%) and Salt Lake City, UT (2.9%). In the year prior, the top 10 cities all reported an average growth of 6% or higher.

Interestingly, Sacramento, CA is the only city to appear in the top 10 cities for physician salary growth in both 2021 and 2022. 

physician burnout by specialty

Solo Practitioners are Seeing Growth

When it comes to employment settings, most physicians saw a drop in their average salaries in 2022. Two particular winners in this category, however, were solo practitioners (3.0%) and doctors working at health maintenance organizations (3.4%). 

Employment settings that reported a drop in average compensation include:

  • Single Specialty Group (-0.7%)

  • Multi-Specialty Group (-0.7%)

  • Hospital (-0.1%)

  • Industry / Pharmaceutical (-0.8%)

  • Academic (-1.0%)

  • Urgent Care Center / Chain (-0.9%)

With salaries dipping, it’s the perfect time for doctors to start managing their wealth and safeguarding their future. Earned not only gives you easy digital oversight of your finances but also provides you access to an Earned Advisor who understands these industry trends and their financial implications for physicians. Get started today.

Surgeons Earn the Most

Perhaps unsurprisingly, neurosurgery commanded the highest average salary-by-specialty ($788,313). In fact, adult surgical and procedural specialties lead this category, with thoracic, orthopedic, plastic, and vascular surgeons rounding out the top five.  

Pediatric endocrinology ($218,266), pediatric infectious disease, and pediatric rheumatology reported the lowest average physician salaries. The lowest six average salaries were all reported from pediatric specialties.

There’s a Physician Shortage

Doximity counted the number of doctor and locum tenens physician job postings in its network and found most places that ranked high in one category ranked high in the other, as well. This indicates high demand for doctors in these areas and a real shortage of doctors nationwide.

Where are they needed most? According to Doximity’s job postings, Tallahassee, FL, and Springfield, IL lead the pact. These two cities had the most postings for permanent and locum tenens physician jobs. 

Other cities that appear in the top 10 of both lists:

  • Albany, NY

  • Lansing, MI

  • Raleigh, NC

  • Trenton, NJ

What kind of doctors are in demand? Doximity found the most job listings for the family medicine, psychiatry, internal medicine, emergency medicine, and child and adolescent psychiatry specialties.

Burnout is Still a Problem

What’s behind the physician shortage? One factor is burnout. In May of last year, the U.S. Surgeon General issued a warning about medical professional burnout which had reached “crisis levels.” That data Doximity collected from 2,000 respondents confirms that burnout continues to be a serious issue in the medical profession. 

More than 16% reported “Because of overwork, I'm looking at another career," and more than 15% reported that being overworked was causing them to look for another employment. More than one-third of respondents said that being overworked was causing them to consider early retirement. Combined, that’s a full two-thirds of respondents who are looking to change their employment status because of burnout.

And it’s hitting women physicians the worst. 75% of the women physicians said they’re ready to make a career change due to being overworked (compared to 63% of the male physicians). Doximity also asked women NPs and PAs about burnout and 68% said they also were considering making career changes due to being overworked — which is 8% higher than reported by male NPs and PAs in the same survey.

This disproportionate impact of burnout on women physicians is particularly disappointing because…

Pay Parity Remains Elusive Amidst Physician Pay Cuts

Despite clocking a slight decrease in the pay gap in 2022, male physicians still earn an average of 26% more than their women counterparts. That’s nearly an average of $110,000 more than women physician salaries even when controlling for factors like location and specialty.

Some of the reasons that may be contributing to the pay gap include differences in hours worked, value-based payment model implications, time spent with patients, practice setting, and differences in negotiation styles.

When broken down by specialty, oral and maxillofacial surgery fared the worst. Women surgeons earned an average of more than $170,000 less than male surgeons. Pediatric pulmonology and allergy and immunology also reported some of the largest gaps.

The specialties with least difference in pay included nuclear medicine, pediatric cardiology, and pediatric gastroenterology, among others.

physician pay cutsdoctor gender pay gap

How Does Your Salary Rank?

Do you know if your current compensation falls in the national average for your specialty, city, and years of experience? Earned can help you find out.

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