How does geography affect physician compensation?

How does geography affect physician compensation?

June 2019
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Physician compensation
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Published in the June/July issue of Today’s Physician 

AS THE 2019 SURVEYS on physician compensation are released, the news is mixed. One large survey indicates that physician compensation remained flat—or even fell—from 2017 to 2018, while another shows that physicians seem to be seeing healthy income gains.

But to really get an accurate view of physician compensation, you have to look at local trends. Physician pay shows so much variation from region to region that looking only at national data can be misleading.

Why does physician pay vary so across the country? Conventional wisdom holds that areas with higher concentrations of teaching hospitals and universities pay less because salaries in academia are lower. On Medscape’s list of the 10 top-paying states, for example, only one is in the Northeast, the region that is home to an oversized number of medical schools and teaching hospitals.

But there are other reasons for regional differences in physician income. In areas that can be difficult to recruit for, employers often entice physicians with higher compensation. That often means that rural areas offer significantly more money than neighboring metropolitan areas.

Here’s a look at geographic trends in physician compensation.

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