Labor Day Finds Physicians Averaging Minimal Salary Gain -- Physician Recruiting Firm Survey Tracks Physician Frustration, Salary Trends by Specialty

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Among more than 2,800 physicians responding to a national on-line survey across 19 specialties, only 6% said they were not frustrated about practicing medicine today. However, more than two-thirds of respondents (69%) said they would choose medicine as a career path if they had it to do over again. The Jackson & Coker survey results indicate the average physician salary increased slightly (less than 1%) from $231,128 in the physician recruiting firm’s 2005 survey to $232,934 in 2006.

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Along with the official end of summer, Labor Day offers a pause to reflect on the state of the American worker. With a shortage of physicians growing across this country, physician recruiting firm Jackson & Coker today offered a snapshot of the state of the American physician.

Among more than 2,800 physicians responding to a national on-line survey across 19 specialties, only 6% said they were not frustrated about practicing medicine in today’s healthcare marketplace. The remaining respondents identified with a list of possible frustrations as follows:

  •     Reimbursement issues – 22%
  •     Administrative/business agendas interfering with clinical decisions – 22%
  •     Lifestyle issues: Too much time at work – 18%
  •     Medical liability issues – 17%
  •     Federal regulations, policies, procedures – 6%

Regardless of their frustration, more than two-thirds of respondents (69%) said they would choose medicine as a career path if they had it to do over again.

“Physicians generally go into medicine for altruistic reasons,” Jackson & Coker Executive Vice President Tim Sheley said. “However, most still have medical school debt to repay and families to support and they don’t expect or enjoy having to deal with the increasingly complicated business side of medical practice.”

Regarding physician salaries, the Jackson & Coker survey results indicate the average physician salary increased slightly (less than 1%) from $231,128 in the physician recruiting firm’s 2005 survey to $232,934 in 2006. Physicians in the following specialties reported the largest increases over salaries reported in 2005:

  •     Obstetrics & Gynecology – 19% increase
  •     Family Practice – 12% increase
  •     Non-invasive Cardiology – 10% increase
  •     Gastroenterology – 8% increase
  •     Neurology – 7% increase

Salaries decreased, on average, in 6 of the specialties surveyed from those reported to the physician recruiting firm in 2005:

  •     Emergency Medicine – 10.5% decrease
  •     Otolaryngology – 9% decrease
  •     Radiology - 7% decrease
  •     Oncology – 3% decrease
  •     Anesthesiology – 2% decrease
  •     Pathology – 0.5% decrease

“We realize it’s difficult to sympathize with a group of professionals commanding salaries averaging more than $200,000 per year,” Sheley said. “When you take into account the decade of training a physician receives before he or she starts earning any noticeable income, along with the huge responsibility that comes with their jobs, you start to get a better perspective on the compensation statistics.”

While 19% of respondents to Jackson & Coker’s 2006 survey said they don’t receive annual bonuses or incentives, 79% reported receiving bonuses of $30,000 or more annually.

Seventy-four percent of survey respondents were male, 76% were board-certified, and more than half (51%) had practiced medicine for more than 10 years.

Jackson & Coker is a full-service, retained physician recruiting firm based in Alpharetta, Ga. It is part of the Jackson Healthcare Solutions family of companies. For more information, visit the company’s Web site at http://www.jacksonandharris.com/2006physician-survey.

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Billie Wickstrom
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