Doximity Study: MD Pay Sliding, MDs Burned Out

April 3, 2023
A new study published by Doximity and its staffing firm Curative Talent, finds physicians experiencing pay challenges even as they are also experiencing professional burnout

Physicians are under exceptional financial pressure now, with compensation currently falling behind inflation, according to the results of compensation surveys completed by thousands of physicians, that was released at the end of March by the San Francisco-based online physician community network Doximity.

The results of the survey were released on March 24 in Doximity’s “2023 Physician Compensation Report.” The study was drawn from over 31,000 self-reported physician compensation surveys completed between January and December 2022, and the analysis was created by Doximity’s healthcare staffing firm, Curative Talent.

The introduction of the report begins thus: “U.S. healthcare workers face a number of pressures in their jobs today, including economic strains, a growing physician shortage, and high rates of work-related burnout. In 2023, physicians will also experience a 2-percent Medicare payment cut after two decades of flat payments. According to the American Medical Association, when adjusted for inflation, Medicare physician payment has declined 22 percent from 2001 to 2021.”

Indeed, the report contends, “These challenges are driving many medical professionals to reassess their careers, explore opportunities for greater autonomy and work-life balance, and in certain cases, even consider new career pursuits outside of medicine altogether.”

It goes on to state that “Our report shows that the average pay for doctors did not increase in 2022. In fact, our study suggests a slight decline of 2.4 percent, compared to an increase of 3.8 percent in 2021. It is clear physician salaries did not keep pace with the high rate of inflation in 2022, which released a 40-year high of 9.1 percent in June, as a measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI). As a result, many doctors experienced a decline in real income, as inflation ran rampant.”

Further, “The gender pay gap among physicians also continues to be significant, with men doctors earning nearly $110,000 more than their women counterparts. This represents a 26-percent gender pay gap in 2022, compared to 28 percent in 2021. While there appears to be slight movement in the right direction, physician pay parity continues to be a critical area in need of improvement. The pay gap may be contributing to an even higher burnout rate among women physicians, with nearly 92 percent of women physicians surveyed reporting overwork, compared to 83 percent of men.”

The report notes that “Our survey results include responses from over 190,000 U.S. doctors over six years, including responses from over 31,000 full-time U.S. physicians in 2022 alone.”

When it comes to compensation growth by specialty, the report notes that, “In 2021, there was an increase in compensation across all specialties. However, in 2022, compensation was stagnant or down across many specialties, contributing to the overall decline observed across the industry.” The specialty with the greatest percentage-increase compensation growth in 2022 was emergency medicine, with a 6.2-percent compensation growth last year, followed by pediatric infectious disease (4.9 percent), pediatric rheumatology (4.2 percent), and preventive medicine (4.0 percent).

Meanwhile, demand for physicians continued to be highly uneven across the country. The ten metropolitan areas with the highest demand for physicians last year were Tallahassee, Florida; Springfield, Illinois; Olympia, Washington, Montgomery Alabama; Salem, Oregon; Fort Wayne, Indiana; Albany, New York; Trenton, New Jersey; Lansing, Michigan, and Raleigh, North Carolina.

What about specialties? The specialties most recruited by Doximity in 2022 were as follows: family medicine, psychiatry, internal medicine, emergency medicine, child and adolescent psychiatry, obstetrics and gynecology, anesthesiology, urgent care, geriatric medicine, and hematology/oncology.

Meanwhile, perhaps the most worrying findings in the report come from Doximity’s survey of over 2,000 physicians last year. Only 13 percent of respondents agreed that “I am not overworked.” A further 19.6 percent agreed with the statement that “I am overworked, but not looking to change my employer.” That said, 15 percent agreed that, “Because of overwork, I’m looking for another employer.” And 16.1 percent agreed with the statement that, “Because of overwork, I’m looking at another career. And fully 35.6 percent of those surveyed agreed that, “Because of overwork, I’m considering early retirement.” Put together, 63 percent of men physicians agreed that they were either considering early retirement, looking at another career, or looking for another employer, while fully 73 percent of women physicians agreed with one of those three statements. Interestingly, when asked whether they would consider lower compensation to achieve more autonomy or work-life balance, 35 percent of survey respondents already have done so; another 36 percent would consider it; and 4 percent were unsure. Meanwhile, only 13 percent said “probably not,” while only 12 percent said “definitely not.”

The full report can be found here.

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