Pediatrics earnings were on the upswing before pandemic


As the COVID-19 spring progresses, the days before the pandemic may seem like a dream: Practices were open, waiting rooms were full of unmasked people, and personal protective equipment was plentiful.

Survey: Physician compensation by specialty

Medscape’s latest physician survey, conducted from Oct. 4, 2019, to Feb. 10, 2020, shows what pediatrics looked like just before the coronavirus arrived.

Back then, earnings were up. Average compensation reported by pediatricians was up from $225,000 in 2019 to $232,000 this year, a 3.1% increase. Average income for all primary care physicians was $243,000 in this year’s survey – 2.5% higher than the $237,000 earned in 2019, Medscape reported.

Prospects for the next year, however, are grim. “We found out that we have a 10% salary decrease effective May 2 to Dec. 25. Our bonus will be based on clinical productivity, and since our numbers are down, that is likely to go away,” a pediatric emergency physician told Medscape.

Before the pandemic, 53% of pediatricians said that they were fairly compensated, right between internists at 52% and family physicians at 54% and in the middle of the overall specialty pack, which ranged from nephrology at 44% to oncology, emergency medicine, and radiology at 67%, the survey data show.

Primary care physicians and specialists were nearly equal in hours spent seeing patients each week – 37.6 for primary care and 38.0 for specialists – but family physicians and internists both averaged more hours than pediatricians doing paperwork and administration each week, at 15.9 and 18.5 versus 14.7, respectively, Medscape said.

Pediatricians (38%) were more likely than the average physician (27%) to say that “gratitude/relationships with patients” was the most rewarding part of their job, and less likely to say that “having so many rules and regulations” was the most challenging part (22% vs. 26%), according to the survey.

When asked if they would choose medicine again, 78% of pediatricians said yes, just above the 77% for all physicians. Pediatricians, however, were much more likely (83%) to say they would choose the same specialty, compared with family physicians (70%) and internists (66%), Medscape found.

The survey respondents were Medscape members who had been invited to participate. The sample size was 17,461 physicians, and compensation was modeled and estimated based on a range of variables across 6 years of survey data. The sampling error was ±0.74%.

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