Docs report: Time with patients most rewarding part of job; still, paperwork is overwhelming

By Aine Cryts

Orthopedic specialists, cardiologists and dermatologists are the most well compensated physicians, according to an annual physician compensation report. Conducted by Medscape, part of the WebMD Health Network, it includes results captured from more than 19,000 physicians between November 17, 2015, and February 9, 2016.

Dermatologists, oncologists and psychiatrists report the highest overall career satisfaction, which includes metrics such as their satisfaction with income, the choice to practice medicine and their specific specialty.

"There is no denying that doctors today are facing burnout from immense pressures, with bureaucratic tasks and paperwork topping the list," said Michael Smith, M.D., medical director and chief medical editor at WebMD, in an announcement. "Yet, the Compensation Report shows that they are fiercely committed to their professional calling, Moreover, it's those doctors with lower salaries, like primary care physicians, that are most likely to choose medicine again. Despite the pressures, doctors remain passionate about patient care."

The report also reveals that:

  • Thirty-four percent of physicians said that "gratitude and their relationships with patients" was the most rewarding aspect of practicing medicine. Thirty-two percent reported that being very good at what they do and diagnosing patients is the most rewarding part of their job.
  • Paperwork and administrative work increasingly bogs down physicians. The 2016 report reveals that more than half of physicians spend at least 10 hours a week on these tasks--this is an increase from the 2014 report, which showed that 35 percent of employed and 26 percent of self-employed physicians were spending 10 hours a week on this type of work.
  • Most physicians (29 and 27 percent of men and women, respectively) spend between 13 and 16 minutes with each patient, which has been a consistent trend with this survey since 2012.
  • Male physicians continue to earn more than their female colleagues. At $341,000 and $277,000, respectively, self-employed and employed male physicians earn more than female physicians who earn $261,000 (self-employed) and $217,000 (employed).
  • Eighty-four percent of employed physicians and 77 percent of their self-employed colleagues continue to accept new and current Medicare and Medicaid patients. This is an increase from the 2015 report, where 79 percent of employed physicians and 64 percent of self-employed physicians were accepting these types of patients.

To learn more:
- check out the report
- read the announcement