In 2016, anesthesiologists earn an average of $360,000 per year throughout the United States, according to a recent study by Medscape. That average salary placed them somewhere in the upper middle of incomes by physicians across all specialities, the Medscape Anesthesia Physician Compensation Report 2016 revealed. Orthopedists and cardiologists held the spot for the first and second most lucrative incomes this year at $443,000 and $410,000, respectively.
The average salary for anesthesiologists increased by only about 1 percent over the previous year, among the lowest increases among all the specialities. Based on the results of the survey, internists unexpectedly realized the greatest increase of 12 percent. Anesthesiologists attribute their modest increase in salary to several different factors, including working more hours, increase in patient volume, raises, or changed jobs or positions.
By geographical region, anesthesiologists in the North Central, Southwest, and Southeast regions of the United States earned the highest incomes: $413,000, $385,000, and $369,000, respectively. Anesthesiologists earn the lowest salaries in the Mid-Atlantic ($342,000) and Northwest ($344,000) regions. The Great Lakes region, which includes Indiana, fell somewhere in the middle at $364,000, just slightly above the national average.
Interestingly, 55 percent of anesthesiologists believe they are fairly compensated. That number, however, includes disparities between male and female anesthesiologists and whether they are self-employed or part of a group. Of those employed by a group, 48 percent of male anesthesiologists and 58 percent of female anesthesiologists believe that they are fairly compensated. However, those numbers are lower, 45 percent and 27 percent, respectively, among their self-employed counterparts.
These opinions of fairness also should be noted within the context that as in all previous years, male anesthesiologists are earning more than female anesthesiologists to the tune of $55,000 per year (male anesthesiologists made $372,000 and their female peers, $317,000). According to Travis Singleton of Merritt Hawkins, a physician search and consulting firm, “The persistence of these disparities is puzzling because we see no contractual bias from our clients against female candidates.” He noted that the differences may reflect variations in work schedules, “particularly with younger female physicians who are in their peak child-rearing years and require flexible schedules, including part-time,” though all findings in the Medscape study were based on full-time employment.
Given the average increase in salaries, how do anesthesiologists feel about their careers? A majority (59%) said they would pick a career in medicine again if they had it to do over, but only 48 percent said they would choose anesthesia the second time around. That may be because the majority of anesthesiologists (63%) spend more than 45 hours per week seeing patients, and more than a third (33% of self-employed and 35% of employed) spend 10 hours or more per week on paperwork and administrative tasks.
For more information about the salaries and work practices of anesthesiologists in 2016, review the Medscape slideshow highlighting the results of the recent survey.
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