Most physician specialties saw increase in compensation, survey finds

Most physician specialties had a rise in compensation last year, but none more so than those in emergency medicine where doctors report a 9.6 percent increase, according to the results of the AMGA’s 2016 Medical Group Compensation and Productivity Survey.

Findings show that 74 percent of specialties experienced an increase in compensation. Overall, the survey found that physicians saw an average increase of 3.1 percent for 2015--similar to the 2.8 percent increase from 2013 to 2014.

The survey included 260 medical groups, which represent more than 92,000 providers in large multispecialty medical groups and integrated health systems.

Along with emergency medicine, specialties experiencing the largest increases in compensation in 2015 were cardiac/thoracic surgery (8.1 percent), cardiology (6.9 percent), and hypertension and nephrology (6.7 percent).

Here are some other highlights from the survey results:

  • Primary care physicians saw an average increase of 3.6 percent, good news after a decrease in compensation in 2014.
  • Other medical specialties report an average increase of 3.0, comparable to a 3.2 percent increase in 2014.
  • Surgical specialties had a slightly larger increase, up by 3.6 percent.

“Once again this year, we see that physician compensation in general has remained relatively flat, with an average increase around 3.0 percent,” said Donald W. Fisher, Ph.D., AMGA president and CEO, in the announcement about the survey findings. “We’ve seen peaks in certain specialties, and dips in others, and much of this reflects the cyclical nature of healthcare economics.”

Fisher said it will be interesting to watch compensation trends over the next few years as value-based practice models become more prevalent.

Physicians are the top of the pay scale in the U.S. job market, with a median base salary of $180,000, according to one salary survey. When it comes to primary care doctors, those who work in rural areas earn the highest salaries, another survey showed.

- here's the AMGA survey announcement