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    Are physician incomes falling?

    Physician incomes have been a topic of controversy for years, with physician compensation being criticized as one of the leading causes of high health care costs.  

    Recently, there have been more reports suggesting that physician income has taken a hit, especially in proportion to the swelling costs of undergraduate and medical school education. With such a wide variety of physician specialties, it is not always easy to objectively validate whether and how much physician salaries are sinking, stagnating or climbing with respect to considerations such as inflation and income trends of other professionals.

     

    FUTURE READING: Warning signs to look for to avoid practice embezzlement

     

    Michelle Mudge Riley, DO, of Physicians Helping Physicians, has been a professional physician career coach for over 10 years and has worked with hundreds of physicians who are in the process of leaving clinical practice.

    In her work, Mudge Riley has been getting feedback from physicians about their reimbursements, and she has observed a downward trend, especially for specialties such as radiology that have traditionally been well-paying. While the high-paying specialties have not fared well, primary care physicians don’t seem to be gaining ground either.

     “As far as primary care salaries go, I don't hear about any increase in salary for my pediatricians or OB's,” she said.

    As many Americans know, taking on extra work is one of the most common ways to ease income strains. 

    “I work with an orthopedic surgeon who says he needs to supplement his clinical income with non-clinical revenue sources because he is in his mid 50s and can’t operate as much anymore. I work with an electrophysiology cardiologist who is in the same situation. Interestingly, the orthopedic surgeon is a male and the cardiologist is a female and they are in different areas of the country,” she says.

     

    TRENDING ON OUR SITE: Is your practice's location financially hurting you?

     

    Mudge Riley also notes that changing compensation structures have hurt, not helped, the bottom line for most doctors.


    Next: Difficulty pinpointing which specialities have suffered most

    Heidi Moawad
    Heidi Moawad is a freelance writer for Medical Economics.

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    • [email protected]
      Nicely written article, Ms Moawad. It is very sad to see our profession slide into this muck and mire of degradation and disgrace. It reminds me so much of growing up on the farm and feeding cattle on the feedlot. Twice daily the cattle would stand in the mud, waiting for us to bring the feed cart and auger ground corn into the trough. If we were late, they would bellow, complain, grow restless, and attempt to break through the electrified fence. Once fed, they would become quiet and content, at least until the next feeding. They certainly could not realize that this daily regime only served our needs for our dinner plates. Medicine has become a feedlot. Our government, insurance companies, and third party payers are masters at making us work to make them successful and wealthy. They dole out morsels of payments and promises of bonuses if we exhibit the right behavior. We moan but dutiful sign contracts for less and less as we watch our overheads skyrocket. We are mired in paperwork, reports, quality issues, and standards that must be met or else. Patients suffer as our attention is on the computer screen and not on their faces. Our families suffer as longer hours are demanded for reports and the almighty EMRs. After 36 years, we had enough. The three of us with nearly 100 years of experience together, decided to convert to Direct Primary Care. With the expertise of Freedomhealthworks.com, we moved from 6000 patients to 1500 and will never go back. No government, no insurance, no billing, and all the time we want and need for each patient has brought the joy back to a bruised and demoralized practice. Our overhead was cut 60% and our patient load went from 30 visits per day to 10. A piece of heaven has returned to central Indiana. We love it and intend to stay in practice much longer than ever anticipated. No more feedlot. No more begging for handouts. We have taken back all the time and given it back to those patients who see the value in great healthcare. There is a way, but good luck if you choose the trough. [email protected]

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