MGMA: Physician Compensation in Academic Practice Trails Private Practices

John Commins, April 5, 2010

Annual compensation for primary care and specialty care groups in academic practice grew by only 2.9% for primary care physicians and 2.4% for specialists between 2008 and 2009, a survey released by the Medical Group Management Association Monday shows.

Academic Practice Compensation and Production Survey for Faculty and Management: 2010 Report Based on 2009 Data found that primary care physicians reported compensation of $158,218, while specialty care physicians reported compensation of $238,587, a difference of $80,369. In addition, the survey found that compensation from academic practices trailed private practices for the last decade.

Between 2005 and 2009, compensation for primary care providers in academic practice rose by almost 17%, and compensation for specialists increased nearly 21%. Internists' compensation grew 4.4% between 2008 and 2009, while annual compensation of family practitioners increased by less than half of 1%. Compensation for cardiologists increased 7.2%, while neurologists' compensation fell 2.5% between 2008 and 2009. Ophthalmologists saw a 9.3% rise in compensation over the year, while other specialists reported slight decreases.

Geography, faculty rank, and productivity contributed to the changes in compensation levels. Median compensation for primary care physicians increased in three of four geographic sections, the greatest increase occurring in the Midwest (6.75%). Physicians in the West reported a decline in compensation. Specialists reported similar trends; compensation in the West decreased by 2% between 2008 and 2009.

Survey respondents also reported compensation increases and decreases based on faculty rank. Primary care positions, including department chairs, saw compensation rise nearly 14% from 2008. Some subspecialists reported decreased compensation based on their rank. Compensation for assistant professors and professors fell by nearly 1%.

There were 581 surveys in the report, which represented 19,048 faculty providers (both physicians and non-physician providers) and 2,191 managers. The survey is conducted annually from about Mid-September through Mid-November.

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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