Working in the medical field has always been considered a noble, prestigious profession — held in high regard. After all, physicians are life-savers and, in some cases, life-changers — and they have compensated accordingly.
The latest report, which surveyed gathered physician salaries from more than 17,000 respondents in more than 30 specialties, shows growth year over year. However, it should be noted that the data was collected at the beginning of February, before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prior to the pandemic, physician salaries continued to rise — with primary care physicians earning an average of $243,000 per year, which is 2.5 percent more than last year. Specialists earned quite a bit more — $346,000 on average, which is a 1.5 percent increase.
While the mid-300’s is impressive, the top five most profitable medical fields make considerably more than the average.
Highest Paid Specialties in Medicine
Orthopedics – $511,000
Plastic Surgery – $479,000
Otolaryngology – $455,000
Cardiology – $438,000
Radiology – $427,000
In many cases, incentive bonuses were calculated into physicians’ salaries. The two main types of incentive bonuses include collections bonuses, given when a physician reaches a benchmark and generates a net profit, which they have the opportunity to keep. The other type is a relative value bonus (RVU), which is a measure of productivity tracked through electronic health records.
The average incentive bonus is 13 percent of the total salary. Physicians who earn the highest salaries earn the highest incentives.
Physician Salary Outlook
As mentioned earlier, physician salaries will look different in next year’s report due to the pandemic.
Doctors working in the most profitable medical fields, especially those in the top five, are feeling the greatest financial impact.
One study estimates that, in the United States alone, more than 4 million surgeries were canceled over the peak 12 weeks of disruption due to COVID-19. Another report suggests a 70 percent drop in surgeries. Specialists like orthopedists and plastic surgeons rely heavily on elective surgeries for the bulk of their income.
The healthcare system as a whole is struggling — facing a 55 to 70 percent decrease in revenue, thanks to the sudden absence of in-person visits. Nearly half of the medical practices have furloughed staff, and 22 percent have made permanent layoffs.
The urgent care industry also took a hit. However, while the rest of the industry slowly began to figure out how to reverse the losses, American Family Care (AFC) bounced back quickly and set records. Patient visits to AFC locations across the country are now up 58 percent in a year-over-year comparison. Visits to other urgent care facilities are still down.
One of the reasons for the fast turnaround was the quick response by AFC to switch from in-person visits to virtual appointments – launching the AFC/Telecare portal, which provides online patient assessment/screening of COVID-19 symptoms or any other healthcare problems, such as acute illnesses and trauma, help managing chronic illness and prescription medication.
The telemedicine option allowed AFC franchisees to maintain current patients and also attracted new patients looking for a safer alternative to in-person visits.
AFC also became the first health care provider in the country to provide the fastest available molecular point-of-care test for the detection of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus. The national recognition drove even more patients to AFC clinics. The relationship AFC cultivated with Abbott Laboratories over the years allowed this milestone to happen.
So what does all that have to do with specialists? Certainly, no surgeries — elective or emergency — are performed at AFC. What the information does do is introduce alternative revenue streams to physicians who are looking to recover the losses the pandemic has placed on their bottom line.
Some physicians are branching out to the practice of doctor-preneuer — combining their medical background and buying into a healthcare-focused business.
The urgent care industry is an example. Keep in mind, no one needs a medical degree to own an urgent care, but many franchisees at American Family Care do have a background in healthcare. An urgent care is a business that employs highly skilled doctors and nurses — but it doesn’t necessarily mean the investor has to work in the business. A growing number of doctors are buying into the industry. In fact, AFC was founded by a physician, Dr. Bruce Irwin, who pioneered the concept of convenient, patient-centric healthcare.
Click here to learn more about franchise opportunities at American Family Care.