The physician gender pay gap eased from 28% in 2021 to 26% in 2022.
After increasing 3.8% in 2021, the average pay for doctors last year decreased 2.4%, according to Doximity survey data released today.
More than 80% of doctors are members of Doximity, a digital platform for U.S. medical professionals. The annual physician compensation report released today is based on survey data collected from more than 31,000 full-time physicians in 2022.
The Doximity report features several key findings:
- Doximity found a significant gender pay gap among physicians, with male doctors earning $110,000 more than their female counterparts. This represents a 26% gender pay gap in 2022, compared to a gender pay gap of 28% in 2021.
- Physician compensation growth in metropolitan areas decreased in 2022. In 2021, the top 10 metropolitan areas for physician compensation growth experienced growth rates of at least 6%. In 2022, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was the only metropolitan area with a physician compensation growth rate above 6%.
- Emergency medicine led all specialties in compensation growth (6.2%) followed by pediatric infectious disease (4.9%) and pediatric rheumatology (4.2%).
- Charlotte, North Carolina ($430,890), St. Louis, Missouri ($426,370), and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma ($425,096) were the metropolitan areas with the highest average compensation.
- Washington, DC ($342,139), Baltimore, Maryland ($346,260) and Boston, Massachusetts ($347,553) were the metropolitan areas with the lowest average compensation.
- The specialties with the highest average annual compensation tended to be surgical and procedural specialties treating adults. The top three specialties by average annual compensation were neurosurgery ($788,313), thoracic surgery ($706,775), and orthopedic surgery ($624,043).
- The specialties with the lowest average annual compensation tended to be pediatric and primary care specialties. The bottom three specialties by average annual compensation were pediatric endocrinology ($218,266), pediatric infectious disease ($221,126), and pediatric rheumatology ($226,186).
- Most physicians have either accepted lower compensation for more autonomy or better work-life balance (35%) or would consider lower compensation for more autonomy or better work-life balance (36%).
Interpreting the data
Compared to 2021, physician compensation growth was low in 2022, the Doximity report says. "In 2021, there was an increase in compensation across all specialties. However, in 2022, compensation was stagnant or down across many specialties, contributing to the overall decline observed across the industry. Emergency medicine physicians reported the highest increase in compensation in 2022, a likely result of the continued demand for emergency healthcare services."
Several factors likely contributed to the decline in average compensation in 2022, Amit Phull, MD, senior vice president and medical director of Doximity, told HealthLeaders. "What we have found is that the reimbursement mix is changing over time. In addition, physicians have been negotiating down their compensation in return for better control over their work-life balance and greater autonomy. In addition, physicians have been taking on more hybrid careers. All of this has come together to result in a slight decline in compensation."
He had mixed views on the long-term prospects for the physician gender pay gap. "The optimist in me would like to think that over time the gender pay gap will close. There was a slight reduction that we found year-over-year from 2021 to 2022. The cynic in me would focus more on the fact that despite that slight reduction, the pay gap itself is still quite substantive. The last time we looked at rolling out the pay gap across a career, it netted out to a couple of a million dollars in compensation over the course of a clinical career."
Providing female physicians with compensation data could help reduce the gender pay gap, Phull said. "Part of why we do a physician compensation report is we view it as a service for our members. For the female cohort of Doximity members, if they are made aware of the pay gap, they might be empowered to be better advocates for themselves. I am cautiously optimistic that the gender pay gap can be reduced."
Autonomy and work-life balance have clearly become important factors for physicians, he said. "Physicians are people, too. So, autonomy and work-life balance are generally important, and given the events that have transpired over the past few years, autonomy and work-life balance have been amplified even further. That reality that we lived through during the pandemic is an accelerant on a trend that already existed in the healthcare space. Over the course of the last generation of physicians, the ability to manage your own practice has changed substantively. … This is just the beginning of more interest in life-work balance. We have begun to see signs of overwork and burnout present themselves more consistently."
Related: Doximity Report: Physician Compensation Growth Not Keeping Pace With Inflation
Christopher Cheney is the senior clinical care editor at HealthLeaders.
Emergency medicine led all specialties in compensation growth (6.2%) followed by pediatric infectious disease (4.9%) and pediatric rheumatology (4.2%).
Charlotte, North Carolina ($430,890), St. Louis, Missouri ($426,370), and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma ($425,096) were the metropolitan areas with the highest average compensation.
Most physicians have either accepted lower compensation for more autonomy or better work-life balance (35%) or would consider lower compensation for more autonomy or better work-life balance (36%).