Physician compensation increases; up 3.4% for primary care doctors

Physicians saw an increase in median compensation from 2017 to 2018, with the largest increase for specialty physicians who had a 4.4% increase.

The median compensation for established providers increased in most specialties over the course of a year, according to the Medical Group Management Association’s (MGMA) 30th annual Provider Compensation and Production Report.

Primary care, specialty and advanced practice providers all experienced growth in pay, according to the MGMA study of more than 147,000 physicians and non-physicians who contributed to the report.

Overall, primary care physicians saw a 3.4% increase from 2017 to 2018, specialty physicians had a 4.4% increase and advance practice providers had a 2.9% increase.

MGMA physician compensation
(Courtesy of MGMA)

Over the last five years, total compensation for all providers increased at a rate between 7% to 11%, according to the report.

“These compensation specifics allow medical practices to remain competitive and informed on the ever-evolving trends that continue to occur in the healthcare industry,” Halee Fischer-Wright, M.D., MGMA’s president and CEO said in an announcement.

“The increases we are seeing are driven not only by supply and demand but also by an increase in productivity. Practices are staying ahead of the curve by monitoring these trends and in this case, offering higher wages and more incentives to attract and retain the talent they need,” she said.

The report, based on data from more than 5,500 organizations, found the most sizeable increase in compensation included the following medical specialties:

  • Diagnostic radiology, up 7.71%
  • General obstetrics and gynecology, up 7.69%
  • Neurological surgery, up 7.46%
  • Noninvasive cardiology, up 7.45%
  • Neurology, up 6.7%
MGMA compensation specialty
(Courtesy of MGMA)

Geographically, the Midwest and South saw the largest compensation for physicians in 2018.

A shortage of physicians is driving demand, likely resulting in changes in compensation for new hires, the report said. Faced with the shortage, practices recruiting new doctors are offering more salary, in addition to other incentives, particularly in specialties where there may be a shortage.

The country will see a shortage of up to 122,000 physicians by 2032, according to a report released earlier this year by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

The report found steady increases in the median guaranteed compensation for newly-hired providers between 2017 and 2018, with the following specialties at the top:

  • Emergency medicine physicians increased 40.43% ($207,360 to $291,194)
  • Cardiologists increased 21.25% ($400,000 to $485,000)
  • Urologists increased 20% ($312,500 to $375,000)

Compensation for non-physician providers also continued to grow, with earnings for physician assistants growing 10.35% and nurse practitioners increasing 4%.