This year, MedPage Today presents to our readership its first annual Salary Survey Results, an overview of how healthcare professionals working in 26 types of medicine compare in terms of pay, burnout rates, and more. Granular results from the survey for a number of different specialties have already been posted here, and more will be presented in the coming weeks.
As we gathered and put together these results for your edification it occurred to us that while its interesting to see that the average urologist’s salary is higher than that of a rheumatologist, it might also be enlightening to show how your salaries stack up against the perhaps yearned-for careers of your childhood — when you wanted to become an astronaut, a chef, or a farmer. Did you take the right track?
But first things first — let’s talk about healthcare professionals and their pay.
Healthcare Labor Trends and the Continued Shift to Hospitals
The nation’s demand for healthcare — and the industry’s need for qualified healthcare workers — has continued to grow in 2018. A report last month from the Bureau of Labor Statistics noted an acceleration in healthcare hiring overall, with the addition of 328,000 healthcare jobs over the last 12 months versus 292,000 during the year prior. And 118,000 of those jobs were created within hospitals, a trend that is likely to continue, according to the Physicians Foundation 2018 Physician Survey.
Of the nearly 9,000 U.S. physicians who responded to MedPage Today‘s survey, 31% identified as independent practice owners or partners. However, among doctors ages 45 and younger, only 18% were independent practice owners or partners while 53% worked for hospital or hospital-owned medical groups.
With sustained growth within hospitals and other healthcare systems and settings, it’s easy to see why the unemployment rate in healthcare continues to fall below the average unemployment rate across other industries (2.3% vs 3.7%). Though good news for healthcare job seekers, the low unemployment rate is less ideal for employers, who are facing greater competition when trying to fill available positions as well as greater pressure to retain current employees.
According to research done by MedPage Today‘s sister site, Health eCareers, 37% of healthcare employers said they had taken “slightly” to “substantially more” time to hire for available positions in 2018, with the biggest reason (50%) being an inability to find qualified candidates. Data from their 2018 Healthcare Recruiting Trends Report also found that employers were seeing critical physician shortages in a number of specialties including family medicine, internal medicine, psychiatry, and obstetrics/gynecology.
Other critical shortages included general physician assistants (PAs) and psychiatric and mental health PAs. Among nurse practitioners (NPs), the biggest shortages were seen in family medicine and psychiatric and mental health.
Show Us the Money
While compensation varied among physicians of different specialties in our 2018 Salary Survey (data on PAs and NPs available in our full results too), the majority of respondents said they were ‘somewhat’ to ‘very satisfied’ with their earnings.
We also asked physicians a few questions to get a sense of some of the non-financial pros and cons of working in their area of medicine. They told us that the three best parts of their jobs included caring for people, the science and the interesting problems they face, and the income and lifestyle that accompanies it. For the least desirable parts of their job, the top three contenders were the required record-keeping, burnout, and government interventions and regulations (see the full results for more info).
Speaking of Burnout
We all know that burnout is a particular issue among physicians, and our survey attempted to get at the heart of which specialties in medicine were feeling it the worst. At the top of the list were hospitalists and — who would have thunk — nephrologists, but of the 26 specialties we covered, burnout rates were 51% or higher for 15 of them.
The Road Not Traveled
Last but not least, we also took a look at how your salaries compare to those of occupations you may have wistfully dreamed of in your youth:
We hope that this information will help affirm your life choice, but if it doesn’t, perhaps it will inspire contemplation of a dramatic, mid-career transition. Just warn your financial planner first!