Lifestyle, Reimbursement Issues Frustrate Anesthesiologists -- Physician Salary Survey Indicates Declining Percentage of Anesthesiologists Would Choose Career Again

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Among 615 anesthesiologists responding to a national on-line survey conducted in summer 2006, only 6% said they were not frustrated about practicing medicine in today’s healthcare marketplace. Regardless of their frustration, two-thirds of responding anesthesiologists (66%) said they would choose medicine as a career path if they had it to do over again. This represents a four-percent decline from the 70% of anesthesiologists responding affirmatively to the same question in LocumTenens.com’s 2005 anesthesiologist salary survey. The survey results indicate the average anesthesiologist salary actually decreased slightly (2%), from $317,248 in the physician recruiting firm’s 2005 survey to $309,950 in 2006.

As the American Society of Anesthesiologists prepares to meet in Chicago starting this Saturday (October 14), physician recruiting firm LocumTenens.com offers a snapshot of anesthesiologist compensation and satisfaction in the United States.

Anesthesiologists Identify Frustrations

Among 615 anesthesiologists responding to a national on-line survey conducted in summer 2006, only 6% said they were not frustrated about practicing medicine in today’s healthcare marketplace. The remaining respondents identified with a list of possible physician frustrations as follows:

  • Lifestyle issues: Too much time at work – 23%
  • Reimbursement issues – 22%
  • Administrative and business agendas interfere with clinical decisions – 19%
  • Medical liability issues – 17%

When asked later in the survey (unaided) what they would change if they could change one thing about the practice of medicine, most of the almost 400 physicians cited one or more of the same issues listed above.

“Because an anesthesiologist’s work hours generally are driven by surgeons and the OR (operating room) schedule, he or she often enjoys less work-life balance than many other specialists,” LocumTenens.com Vice President Lisa Kaeck said. “Physicians also dislike that the complicated business of healthcare today takes them away from their main focus—practicing medicine.”

Regardless of their frustration, two-thirds of anesthesiologists responding to the anesthesiologist salary survey (66%) said they would choose medicine as a career path if they had it to do over again. This represents a four-percent decline from the 70% of anesthesiologists responding affirmatively to the same question in LocumTenens.com’s 2005 anesthesiologist salary survey, and with 2006 respondents from other specialties as follows:

  • 56% of obstetricians/gynecologists
  • 57% of orthopedic surgeons
  • 69% of general surgeons
  • 70% of pediatricians, internists and radiologists
  • 77% of psychiatrists

Anesthesiologist Compensation Varies Widely

Regarding physician salaries, the LocumTenens.com survey results indicate the average anesthesiologist salary actually decreased slightly (2%), from $317,248 in the physician recruiting firm’s 2005 survey to $309,950 in 2006. Physicians in the following specialties also reported decreases over 2005 physician salaries:

  • Emergency Medicine (10.5% decrease)
  • Otolaryngology (9% decrease)
  • Radiology (7% decrease)
  • Oncology (3% decrease)

More than a third of anesthesiologist respondents (38%) reported earning salaries of $250,000 or less annually, with slightly more than a quarter (26%) earning salaries of less than $225,000 annually. However, almost half of responding anesthesiologists (45%) said they earn salaries of more than $300,000, including 15% who earn more salaries of $400,000 or more annually.

Almost half of respondents (48%) said they don’t receive annual bonuses or incentives. However:

  • 17% reported receiving bonuses or incentives of less than $10,000 annually
  • 18% said they receive bonuses or incentives of $10,000 to $30,000 per year
  • 18% reported receiving bonuses of more than $30,000 or more annually

To see LocumTenens.com’s complete 2006 anesthesiologist salary survey results, click here: http://www.locumtenens.com/anesthesiologistsalary06

Eighty-one percent of survey participants were male, 77% were board-certified, and 57% had practiced medicine for more than 10 years. Among those who reported doing locum tenens work currently, 68% said they do so for less than three months per year.

Founded in 1995, LocumTenens.com is a full-service physician/CRNA recruiting firm specializing in supplemental placement of anesthesiologists, radiologists, psychiatrists, surgeons and CRNAs with U.S. hospitals, medical groups and community health centers. LocumTenens.com is part of the Jackson Healthcare Staffing family of companies. To learn more, visit the company’s web sites at http://www.locumtenens.com/media and http://www.CRNAjobs.com.

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Billie Wickstrom
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