GPs were again down almost on average incomes, but pay rose slightly this year, to $ 236,000, up from $ 234,000 last year, even in many practices. who experienced a decrease in patient hours and visits during the pandemic.
Only pediatricians earned less ($ 221,000) according to the Medscape 2021 Family Physician Compensation Report. Plastic surgeons topped this year’s list ($ 526,000), followed by orthopedists ($ 511,000) and cardiologists ($ 459,000).
GPs ranked at half of the specialties in terms of the percentage of doctors who thought they were strongly compensated: 57% of GPs said they paid them quite a bit and 79% of oncologists. Only 44% of doctors with infectious diseases said they were fairly compensated.
The responses to the survey indicate, however, that remuneration does not lead to the satisfaction of GPs.
Only 10% of GPs in the survey said “making money in a job I enjoy” was the most rewarding aspect of the job. The two main responses, by far, were “gratitude / patient relationships” (chosen by 34%) and “knowing that I am making the world a better place” (27%). Respondents could choose more than one answer.
Despite the small rise in general income in the specialty, more than a third of GPs (36%) reported a decline in compensation in this year’s survey, which included 18,000 responses from doctors in 29 specialties.
Male GPs continue to charge much more than their colleagues, 29% more this year, increasing the difference from 26% last year. Overall, men in primary care earned 27% more than their peers and male specialists earned 33% more.
As for the decrease in patients observed in some specialties, GPs remain their own.
Whearas pediatricians have seen an 18% drop in patient visits, while GPs have only seen a 5% drop, going from an average of 81 to 77 patients a week.
Most expect to return to normal pay within 3 years
The majority of GPs (83%) who suffered financial losses this year said they expect income to return to normal within three years. More than a third of that group (38%) said they expect compensation to return to normal next year.
Almost all family physicians who lost income (91%) pointed the finger at COVID-19. Respondents were able to choose more than one answer and 18% said other factors were also to blame.
Family physicians earned an average of $ 27,000 in incentive vouchers, higher than in internal medicine, pediatrics and psychiatry. Orthopedists had by far the highest bonuses, at $ 116,000.
For GPs who received a bonus this year, the amount is equivalent to 12% of their salary, compared to 10% last year. Bonds are usually based on productivity, but can also be related to patient satisfaction, clinical processes, and other factors.
The number of GPs who reached more than three-quarters of their potential annual bonus rose to 61% this year, from 55%.
17 hours a week on administrative tasks
The survey also ranked specialties by the amount of time physicians spent on documentation and administrative tasks, including participation in professional organizations and clinical reading.
Family doctors fell directly in the middle, with 17 hours a week devoted to these tasks. Doctors with infectious diseases spent more time, at 24.2 hours per week, and anesthesiologists spent less, at 10.1.
Working hours decreased for many doctors during the pandemic, and some were studied.
But, like most doctors, family doctors return to work normal hours. They have an average of 49 hours a week, a little more than before the pandemic.
Specialists whose weekly hours are higher than normal are infectious disease physicians, intensivists, and public health and preventive medicine physicians; all work 6 to 7 hours a week longer than usual, according to survey responses.
The responses also generated some uncertainty about the future composition of the patients ’panels.
The majority of GPs (69%) said they would continue to take new and existing Medicare / Medicaid patients.
However, about a third of GPs said they would stop treating at least some patients they already have and will not take new ones or have not yet decided.