The average U.S. family physician received $231,000 in total compensation last year, a 5-percent gain from the year before as overall physician pay went up, according to a new study.
The Medscape Physician Compensation Report 2019 surveyed more than 19,000 physicians in the United States. It found that family physicians fell just short of the average compensation for all primary care physicians ($237,000) but surpassed pediatrics ($225,000) and public health and preventive medicine ($209,000).
The average compensation for all physicians was $313,000, almost 5 percent higher than the prior year. The highest-paid physicians were in orthopedics, with an average compensation of $482,000.
Among family physicians, 53 percent said they felt fairly compensated, down from 61 percent a year ago. The rate of pay doesn’t necessarily translate to satisfaction as physicians involved in public health and preventive medicine, the lowest-paid specialty, topped the list for feeling fairly compensated at 73 percent while those in orthopedics, the highest-paid specialty, ranked in the middle of the list for feeling fairly compensated at 52 percent.
This year’s survey didn’t measure the percentage of physicians still working for themselves but did note that self-employed physicians, on average, tend to make more ($359,000) than employed physicians ($289,000).
The gender pay gap in primary care dramatically widened last year, with male physicians making 25 percent more on average than their female colleagues, up from 18 percent the year before. For physicians in other specialties, the gap moderated with male physicians making an average of 33 percent more than female physicians, compared with 36 percent more a year ago.
The survey also found a significant increase in the amount of time physicians are having to devote to paperwork and administrative duties as opposed to seeing patients. Almost three-quarters of respondents said they spend 10 or more hours a week on these tasks, more than double the 34 percent of respondents in 2012.
When it comes to physicians pursuing nontraditional payment models, 19 percent said they operate in a direct primary care, cash-only, or concierge-style practice, which is about the same as in the 2018 survey. The percentage of physicians participating in an accountable care organization also remained level at 28 percent.
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