Physician Compensation Up Slightly in Academia

John Commins, March 21, 2011

Academic faculty physicians in primary and specialty care reported slight increases in compensation between 2009 and 2010. However their compensation continues to trail that of physicians in private practice, according to a new report from the Medical Group Management Association.

MGMA’s Academic Practice Compensation and Production Survey for Faculty and Management: 2011 Report Based on 2010 Data found that median compensation for primary care faculty physicians was $163,704 -- an increase of 3.47% since 2009 -- and median compensation for specialty care faculty was $241,959 -- an increase of 2.7% since 2009.

“Overall, academic practices provide a different environment for their faculty than private practices,” said Jonathan Tamir, associate chairman, Finance & Administration, Department of Internal Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine. “Even the very best academic clinicians will not be as clinically productive as their private-practice counterparts since at least some of their time is devoted to research and teaching efforts—which are never as well compensated as clinical care.”

This year’s report contains data on 18,776 faculty physicians and non-physician providers categorized by specialty and 1,993 managers. Englewood, CO-based MGMA said. 

Annual compensation for internal medicine primary care faculty physicians increased by 6.84% between 2009 and 2010, and increased 4.46% between 2008 and 2009. Pediatric faculty reported annual compensation of $145,000, a 2.21% increase since 2009.

Tamir said the salary bumps are required to hire internal medicine faculty. “It is the law of supply and demand. More applicants are interested in part-time appointments or reduced on-call roles. The demand for more highly paid hospitalists is increasing, further reducing the applicant pool, and senior physicians are retiring earlier than in the past,” Tamir said. “While causes such as increasing paperwork, decreasing reimbursement, the change in the doctor-patient relationship and increasing regulations are certainly a factor, the bottom line is that there aren’t enough internal medicine applicants available.”

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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