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April 22, 2013

Compensation for doctors in academia based on more than clinical effort

Doctors in academic settings have many different factors influencing their compensation to consider than their peers in private practice or integrated delivery systems, according to a new survey released last month.

Clinical effort, teaching, and research

According to the survey’s findings, three primary activities influence physician compensation in those settings: clinical effort, teaching and research. Their counterparts in non-academic settings generally are rewarded solely on clinical effort.

The survey entitled Academic Practice Compensation and Production Survey for Faculty and Management 2013 Report Based on 2012 Data was released by MGMA.

What influences compensation in academic settings?

In academic settings, department rank, which is often based on years of experience, influences compensation. Primary care professors report a median income of $203,777, while department chairs reported median incomes of $299,500. Those who were specialists reported median incomes of $291,101, while those department chairs reported incomes of $510,542.

Geographic location also affected total compensation of academic physicians, depending on the area of focus. Pediatricians in the South reported the lowest median compensations of $148,406, while pediatricians in the West reported a median of approximately $165,817. General surgeons in the Midwest who were in academics reported a median income of $276,046, while they reported a median income of $348,243 in the East.

"Physicians in academic settings aren’t compensated in the same way as physicians in other settings. However, these positions provide opportunities for physicians to teach and conduct research they are passionate about. These academic endeavors are important facets of the industry, in that we’re learning more about patient’s health and how to treat them, in addition to sharing knowledge with others," said Shirley Zwinggi, administrator, Department of Surgery, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas.

Choosing a practice that fits your lifestyle can be challenging, you may want to look beyond the numbers. Opportunities in academics as well as volunteering at free clinics, becoming a doctor in the military, traveling while you work or taking care of underserved populations such as the prison populations offer their own benefits. You can read more about those options here. 



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