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Details on Physician Compensation

March 31, 2012

Geographic section and department rank influence compensation in academic settings, according to the MGMA Academic Practice Compensation and Production Survey for Faculty and Management: 2012 Report Based on 2011 Data. For example, dermatologists in academic settings report median compensation of $277,765 in the Midwest and $234,936 in the Western region. General pediatricians in the Eastern section reported $157,289 in median compensation and in the Southern section reported median compensation of $139,410. In the Eastern section, urologists reported $368,401 in median compensation, compared with $300,000 in the Midwest, $336,000 in the Southern section and $445,247 in the Western section.

Department rank may also influence compensation. As rank (which some use as a proxy for years of experience) increases, so does compensation. Primary care associate professors reported $173,963 in median compensation and professors reported median compensation of $198,000. Primary care department chairs reported median compensation of $282,296. Specialty care associate professors earned $260,075 and professors earned $280,000. Specialty care department chairs reported median compensation of $506,200.

“When determining compensation in academic settings, clinical productivity, research support, educational activity (such as rounding and mentoring), as well as endowments and philanthropy, are taken into account,” said Jonathan Tamir, vice chairman, Finance & Administration, Department of Internal Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine. “Additionally, salary levels may be supported for promising faculty and/or faculty conducting unfunded research in the organization’s areas of interest or specialization by using departmental reserves.Physician compensation in academic settings continued to trail that of physicians in private practice, as is customary. Family practitioners in academic settings reported median compensation of $173,801, compared with $189,402 in private practice. Specialists in academic settings also reported median compensation that trailed physician earnings in private practice. Anesthesiologists earned $326,000 in median compensation in academic settings, $407,292 in private practice. General surgeons in academic settings earned $297,260 in median compensation, compared to $343,958 in private practice.

“Salaries in academic practices will always be lower than that of salaries in private practices,” Tamir said. “Physicians in private practices concentrate their effort on providing clinical care to patients while physicians in academic practices split their efforts between clinical care and research activities. These research activities are never as well compensated as clinical care.”

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