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Survey: Employed Physicians Make Less in 2016 Than Independent Physicians

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Earlier this month, Medscape released its “Physician Compensation Report 2016,” and according to Carol Peckham over at the publication’s website, the report is based on information collected from “nearly 19,200 physicians in over 26 specialties,” who “disclosed not only their compensation, but also how many hours they work per week, how many minutes they spend with each patient, the most rewarding part of their job, changes to their practice resulting from healthcare reform, and more.”

So far, we’ve looked at physician compensation by specialty, by geographic region, and by state. We move now to the salaries of those physicians who are employed versus those in private practice.

“In this year's Medscape report, as in last, more women than men were employed (72 percent and 59 percent, respectively),” Peckham reports. “Thirty-five percent of men and 23 percent of women were self-employed. The percentages were virtually identical to those reported last year.”

The report also found that younger physicians are more inclined to seek employment than their older counterparts. According to Peckham, “Reasons include reluctance to deal with the business side of medicine and the desire for a predictable work schedule. According to an American Medical Association report, the rate of practice ownership decreased from 61 percent in 2007-2008 to 53 percent in 2012. Ownership was highest among surgical subspecialties and lowest in pediatrics, emergency medicine, and family medicine.”

The question is: Who actually earns more, the employed or self-employed physician?

According to the report, employed physicians have a lower-than-average income, mainly because “they don’t have the business responsibilities of employed physicians,” which is, of course, one of the reasons they have chosen employment over independence.

“Primary care physicians (PCPs) make $207,000, only slightly less than their self-employed peers ($229,000),” Peckham writes. “Self-employed specialists earn significantly more than employed specialists, and both groups earn more than PCPs. Compared with last year's Medscape Physician Compensation Report, however, employed PCPs experienced the highest percentage compensation increase (10 percent) compared with self-employed PCPs (8 percent) and all specialists (6 percent).”

As physicians who are looking for jobs, does the lower salary that employed physicians earn bother you or are you looking at the time and stress you’re saving yourself by not being independent?

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