MGMA: Medical Director Earnings Vary With Practice Ownership

John Commins, May 4, 2010

Directors in hospital-owned practices in emergency medicine earned $20,000 per year while their counterparts in nonhospital-owned practices earned $60,000, according to the Medical Group Management Association Medical Directorship and On-Call Compensation Survey: 2010 Report Based on 2009 Data.

Family practitioners in hospital-owned practices earned $23,250 and their counterparts in nonhospital-owned practices earned $8,400 annually. Surgical subspecialist directors received $40,000 in both hospital and nonhospital-owned practices, MGMA said.

"Physicians may be expected to take on directorship responsibilities or on-call coverage as part of their employment terms as employees of the hospital," said Jason Whitmer, senior manager at Crowe Horwath LLP, and a MGMA survey advisory committee member. "Each employment arrangement is unique and determines whether a current employee will provide directorship support or if the hospital will need to acquire help externally for these services. Compensation for directorship duties may already be built into the salaries physicians receive."

Compensation for medical directors varied widely across specialties, with the greatest annualized compensation—$90,000—reported for anatomic and clinical pathology. Three other specialties—nephrology, neonatal pediatrics, and cardiovascular surgery—reported median compensation greater than $50,000. Most medical practices reported median compensation of less than $50,000. Hourly rate compensation was more consistent across specialties and indicated how workloads differed among respondents.

Medical directors who trained as surgical subspecialists reported the $40,000 in annualized compensation, followed by nonsurgical subspecialists at $31,200. Directors who trained as primary care physicians received less than $24,000.

Compensation variations also were attributed to directors’ responsibilities and hours worked per week. Directors responsible for attending meetings reported dramatically lower compensation levels than directors without this responsibility. Nonsurgical specialist directors who attended meetings were compensated $28,800 while their counterparts without this responsibility earned $50,000. Responsibilities such as documentation and care planning, physician behavior and impairment, physician education and recruitment saw differences in annual compensation.

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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