In face of COVID-19 pandemic, physician salaries remained largely unchanged

Physician salaries did not change as much due to the COVID-19 pandemic as some specialists had predicted, according to the 2021 Medscape Physician Compensation Report.

Salaries did still take a slight dip, the report’s authors noted—but the changes were relatively minor.

The average annual salary for primary care physicians, for example, dropped from $243,000 in 2020 to $242,000 in 2021. For specialists, salaries dropped from $346,000 in 2020 to $344,000 in 2021.

The specialties with the highest annual salaries in 2021 were plastic surgery ($526,000) and orthopedics ($511,000). Specialties at the very bottom of the list included family medicine ($236,000) and pediatrics ($221,000).  

According to Medscape’s researchers, the healthcare industry’s ability to adapt and embrace emerging technologies seems to have helped physicians avoid widespread pay cuts.

“Physicians experienced a challenging year on numerous fronts, including weathering the volatile financial impact of lockdowns,” Leslie Kane, senior director of Medscape Business of Medicine, said in a statement. “Our report shows that many were able to pivot to use telemedicine and focus on tactics that would protect their practices. COVID took a terrible emotional toll on physicians and healthcare workers, and many are still struggling financially, but our findings showed that physicians will innovate and change quickly to meet the needs of patients through extremely difficult times.”

Medscape crafted the report with data from nearly 18,000 physicians. Data was collected from October 2020 to February 2021.

Some other key takeaways from the report included:

  • A whopping 92% of physicians who saw their income go down attributed the change to COVID-19.
  • Self-employed physicians averaged a slightly higher annual salary ($352,000) than employed physicians ($300,000).
  • Physicians working in Alabama reported the highest average salaries ($348,000). Physicians in Minnesota, meanwhile, reported the lowest ($296,000).

Click here to read the full report.

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