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Physician Salaries Vary Widely Among Academics

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, April 5, 2012

Department rank, of course, also influences compensation.

While primary care associate professors reported median income of $198,000, primary care department chairs reported a median compensation of $282,296. Specialty care associate professors earned $260,075 and full professors earned $280,000. Specialty care department chairs reported median compensation of $506,200.

Don't expect those income levels to grow much, at least in the near future, Tamir tells HealthLeaders Media. With economic conditions and federal reimbursement changes, "there's a lot of downward pressure on salaries, compensation, and support in general."

"Healthcare is a weird system where you have the usual supply and demand factors at work in some places, but not at work in others," Tamir says. "If you look at medical insurers, they will pay the same amount for services regardless of the tenure and experience of the person doing it. I see salaries increasing marginally. You want to make sure your faculty are not de-motivated by their salaries not keeping up with inflation."

For academic researchers, there have been "negative developments recently," particularly from the government, he says. He referred to reduced support for research, as well as salary reductions. "We're actually seeing mid-term reductions of funding, where someone may be going along and believe they would be funded at a certain amount for five years and then, the government is saying, ‘guess what, we're reducing it,'" Tamir says. "After year three of a grant, the government may say, ‘We're cutting you 10 or 20%.'

"Then, as a researcher, you have to scramble, maybe cut supplies or support staff to produce the results despite the cuts," Tamir says.

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