American College of Physicians says factors such as gender, race should not affect salary

The American College of Physicians has called for pay equity for all physicians.

The physicians’ group adopted a position statement (PDF) that calls for the elimination of disparities in doctors’ compensation based on personal characteristics.

“Physicians, like those in other professions, should be assured that their work is being valued equally,” Jack Ende, M.D., the group’s president said in a statement.

“Salary and compensation should never be negatively impacted by a physician’s personal characteristics, including gender, race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Physician compensation surveys find that gender and racial gaps continue to exist. For example, Medscape’s annual compensation survey found disparities in physician salaries, with African-American doctors earning significantly less than their white counterparts and a gender gap still separating female and male doctors, although it is starting to shrink.

The annual Medical Economics Physician Report found that male doctors have an average income of $270,000 per year, which is $66,000 more than their female counterparts, who averaged $204,000 annually.

A trio of female pediatricians working at an affiliate of Carolinas HealthCare System recently filed suit, alleging that the health system paid them substantially less than a male counterpart on the basis of their gender.

The ACP said it found ample research and background evidence that gender, race, sexual orientation and gender identity all impact compensation. And the more of those characteristics a doctor has, the more it compounds that disparity, the group said.

The ACP also called for transparency around physician compensation arrangements to ensure that doctors are paid equitably. It hopes its recommendations bring awareness to the issue and starts a national dialog.

“This is especially important to female and other under-represented minority physicians who historically and currently have seen their contributions undervalued because of who they are, not on what we contribute to patient care,” said Susan Thompson Hinge, M.D., chair of ACP’s board of regents, in the statement.