Factors That Fuel The Increase In A Doctor’s Salary

For doctors, the opportunity of compensation comes after years of hard work, study and internships, and after finally setting up practice. The toils of becoming physicians all around the world are more or less of the same degree of rigorousness and diligence but the compensation or salaries vary greatly. While macroeconomic factors bring about the difference between countries, within the same country geographic settings, skills, specializations, etc. also play up differences among the packages that doctors get to take home.

For instance, to be a doctor in Netherlands is to have the highest compensation worldwide where a specialist can have an average income of US$ 253,000 per year but then a general practitioner in the same country lags behind the worldwide average with an income of US$ 117,000 per year only. To top it though, Netherlands has better and shorter working hours, more holidays, a better supply of doctors and lesser instances of medical malpractice and staggering student loan issues.

Among healthcare professionals such as pharmacists, dentists, etc. physicians actually are at top of the salary chain but apart from being highly-trained and skilled, there are certainly other factors that can dictate how wholesome and sturdy a doctor’s package can be.

First, doctors who take up leadership roles in hospital administration can command a striking increase in their salaries. And a lot of that compensation can come from bonuses. Though mostly, only the highest administrative positions can bring in high salaries. The better part of the scenario is that analysis shows that hospitals led by physicians rather than managers perform 25% better on hospital quality scores. According to the 2016 US News and World Report ranking, the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic are top two hospitals in the country and both are led by highly skilled doctors John Noseworthy and Delos (Toby) Cosgrove, respectively.

Secondly, there are doctors who are ‘rockstars’ in their industry. These are the physicians who are the best of the best and can attract patients and increase the prestige of the organizations they are associated with. Clearly, therefore, they are most sought after with hefty salaries to lure them in and keep them. These rockstar doctors are generally concentrated in the areas of neurosurgery, invasive cardiology, oncology, orthopedics, dermatology, ophthalmology, and radiology.

Thirdly, upgrading skills can definitely play a deciding factor in determining an upward trend in salaries. Continuing medical education to advance both hard and soft skills, performing observerships, specialty and even sub-specialty training at times from different institutions can all result in a continuously refined set of skills that would lead to higher compensations.

The fourth factor playing a deciding role in the package of a doctor is their specialty. The most comprehensive and widely used physician salary survey, the Medscape Physician Compensation Report 2017 reported the top three earning specialties for the year as:

i. Orthopedists US$ 489,000
ii. Plastic Surgeons US$ 410,000
iii. Cardiologists US$ 410,000

The report finds pediatricians, family physicians and endocrinologists among the lowest earners of the year. But in spite of the highs and lows in certain specialties, the average income of doctors has actually risen since 2011. Although, the glaring gap in the income between specialists and primary care providers remain as much 45% pointing towards the fact choosing the right specialty can dictate who earns more.

Finally, doctors can earn more through several other options as well apart from expanding their practice. There are a variety of other part-time jobs which are interesting while utilizing the same clinical skills. For example, doctors can choose to supervise mid-level practitioners, work for attorneys as an expert witness, independent medical examiners for insurance organizations, etc. On the lighter side, there are avenues like working as a resident cruise physician, as medical staff for outdoor events, etc. These stints can not only bring an extra pay cheque they can also provide a breather from the monotonous work schedule bringing in a much-needed balance to the work life of a doctor.

According to the Merritt Hawkins’ 2017 Review of Physician and Advanced Practitioner Recruiting Incentives the demand for physicians remains at an underlying constant with increased recruitment activities though the salary disparities also remain.

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