Physician Compensation Photo

Physician Compensation Report

Evan Winter

2020 was an interesting year for any sort of employment statistics, to say the least. Compensation is a large point of negotiation for all physician contracts, and the uncertainty brought by the COVID-19 pandemic left many doctors wondering whether they would receive, or continue to receive, the proper salary for their skillset and location. 

Compared to 2019, changes in compensation varied significantly by specialty. Many saw pay cuts, as patients opted to stay home and forgo routine exams or elective procedures, while others actually saw compensation bumps in spite of stay-at-home orders. A few changes paint an intriguing picture of how the public reacted to work-from-home situations. For instance, plastic surgery saw an average 10% compensation increase. Some doctors attribute this to patients becoming more self-conscience of their appearance after viewing themselves on day-to-day video calls.

Fortunately, the overall average physician compensation only dropped slightly in 2020. The average for primary care was down by 0.4% and the average for specialists decreased by just 0.6%. Listed below are some more detailed statistics on which specialties received the highest salaries and which saw the greatest changes.

Highest Paid Specialties

Plastic Surgery$526,000

Largest Changes in Compensation from the 2020 Report

Plastic Surgery+10%
Otolaryngology; Allergy & Immunology-9%
Rheumatology; Cardiology+5%
Pediatrics; Anesthesiology-5%
Diabetes & Endocrinology+4%
Neurology; Critical Care; Psychiatry+3%
Pulmonary Medicine; Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation; Gastroenterology; Radiology-3%
General Surgery; Urology; Public Health & Preventive Medicine+2%

*Data based on Medscape's 2021 Physician Compensation Report

Compensation remaining relatively stable throughout last year can be attributed to a number of factors, but one not to underestimate is employment contract review. Despite a temporary drop in demand, the United States is still experiencing a physician shortage, and as we emerge from the pandemic, employers will need to make up lost ground in hiring efforts. Physicians who leveraged that information, along with average salary and benefits data, were able to negotiate for the compensation they deserved, regardless of the job market's state. Visit the contract review page to learn more about how you can make sure you're getting the most out of any new or existing contract.