Recently, a relative approached me regarding her choice to pursue pediatrics as a career choice. We had an extensive discussion about how fulfilling this specialty is and how healthy its population is compared to adult specialties. Yet our discussion took a different turn when we addressed salaries and compensation. As most of us know, pediatricians are the least paid physicians.
A few weeks ago, Medscape published its 2015 report of physicians’ compensation. They surveyed more than 19,000 physicians across 26 specialties between December 2014 and March 2015. 9% of the respondents were pediatricians.
Pediatricians have the lowest compensation rate in all specialties and they are second from last in non-patient care compensation (that is, compensation from expert witness testimony, product sales and speaking engagements), even though they experienced a modest 4% salary increase in the prior year. Their salary varied by practice setting; self-employed pediatricians make approximately $30,000 more than their employed counterparts. Despite this fact, self-employed pediatricians were less satisfied with their compensation when compared to employed pediatricians.
The compensation also differed by geographical location and type of practice. The central area had the highest rates while the Mid-Atlantic and Southwest region had the lowest. Pediatricians working in academic or government centers were the least paid in the spectrum, with an average yearly compensation of $162,000. Physicians of office-based single-specialty group practices were paid the highest.
This survey highlights alarming facts about the current status and future of pediatricians. How satisfied are we with our compensation? Don’t we lead all the specialties in malpractice payments? Are we doing anything about it? At the current rate of increase in salaries (if you are one of the lucky ones to even get a raise) we will continue to be the least paid and the most worked (86% of pediatricians work more than 30 clinical hours per week).
If these conditions continue, we might see an exodus of pediatricians from academia to private self-employed settings. I personally already have seen some pediatric emergency physicians exploring private urgent care centers instead of academic or hospital-based settings, as the former provides a more attractive schedule and compensation.
I look for the day when pediatricians will stand up and demand a better work environment, better hours and fairer compensation! Because, honestly, if we don’t change it, no one will.
How do you feel about this topic? Please share your thoughts and comments.