Gender pay gap a problem for doctors — and it's growing
Physician compensation is on the rise, but so is the gender pay gap in healthcare, according to Medscape’s eighth annual Physician Compensation Report.
The report, which surveyed 20,000 physicians across 29 specialties, found overall physician salaries average about $300,000 which is an increase from $294,000 last year.
Meanwhile, a new Hospital Executive Compensation Report from Total Compensation Solutions found the average bonus for a hospital CEO is 33.2% of base salary.
The Medscape report said male primary care physicians earn an average of $239,000 annually, while women on average earn $203,000. That’s a 2% increase in the wage gap since last year. The gap is even worse for specialists. Male specialists earn $358,000 while female specialists receive $263,000, which is a 36% gap.
The report echoed concerns about the gender pay gap raised in other recent studies. Doximity’s Physician Compensation Report found female doctors earned 27.7% less than male doctors. Much like the Medscape report, Doximity found the gap is increasing. It was a 26.5% gap in 2016.
The gender wage gap will only play a bigger role in the coming years. More women enrolled in U.S. medical schools for the first time in 2017.
The Medscape report also found a pay gap between black physicians and white physicians. Black physicians earn an average of $50,000 less than white physicians ($258,000 compared to $308,000). This is especially problematic for black female physicians, who make nearly $100,000 less than black male physicians.
Concerning specialties, Medscape said psychiatrists saw the biggest increase over the past year (about 16%). Leslie Kane, senior director of Medscape's Business of Medicine, said that increase may come from “the influence of the opioid epidemic and the demand for psychiatrists to treat aging patients."
Plastic surgeons ($501,000) are now the highest earners, overtaking orthopedists for the top spot. The lowest compensation goes to pediatricians ($212,000) and family practice physicians ($219,000).
The report found location plays a key role in compensation. North Central region states’ average $319,000, while Northeast states receive the lowest compensation at $275,000. Physicians in Indiana, Oklahoma and Connecticut topped the list while New Mexico, Maryland and Washington, D.C., ranked at the bottom of the list.
The report also found that physicians are spending more time on paperwork and administrative tasks. More than 70% said they spend more than 10 hours per week on paperwork, which is 13 percentage points higher than last year.
Despite the additional administrative work, physicians across all specialties still say they find the job rewarding, Medscape Chief Medical Director Michael Smith said.
“The majority of physicians feel fairly compensated, and even though about 40% might have chosen another specialty in hindsight, 77% are satisfied with their decision to become a doctor," he said. "It’s important to note the rewards come from making a difference and gratitude from patients.”
Meanwhile, the 2018 Hospital Executive Compensation Report, which includes data from 1,332 hospitals across the United States, 27 executive and director level job titles and compensation data for about 5,000 executives, found CEO bonuses ranged from zero to 269% of base salary. About 76% of hospitals reported they pay their CEO a bonus.
TCS also found the average bonus range for five key executive positions (excluding the CEO) is 19.2% to 30.6% of base salary.