Daily stipend grows as method of on-call doctor compensation

June 20, 2012

On-call physician compensation--now often paid in daily stipends--still varies widely, the Medical Group Management Association says. Learn what it takes to make the most.

Daily stipends are increasingly popular as a compensation method for on-call physicians, according to new data from the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA).

In fact, according to a recent survey, about 30% of doctors now receive stipends as a form of compensation for on-call coverage. The survey also found widespread disparities in on-call physician compensation based on location and specialty.

The recently released report, “MGMA Medical Directorship and On-Call Compensation Survey,” taps data supplied by 3,864 on-call providers in more than 300 medical organizations.

“On-call pay continues to be a material and growing investment for many hospitals and health systems,” says Steven Strode, MS, national survey advisory committee member for the MGMA-American College of Medical Practice Executives.

According to the data, internal medicine physicians report a median daily stipend of $1,000 for on-call coverage. Non-invasive cardiologists earned $650, and anesthesiologists reeled in $1,500 a day for on-call coverage. Family medicine physicians (without obstetrics) earned a median of $100 a day in on-call compensation.

Pay also varied widely by medical provider and location. For example, neurologists in single-specialty practices made $800 more per day in median on-call compensation than their counterparts in multispecialty practices, the MGMA reports.

For family medicine physicians (without obstetrics), the median annual compensation was $36,100. And large regional disparities in annual returns were reported. In the western region, the median annual on-call pay was $49,600, whereas the southern region posted just less than half that.

For primary care physicians (PCPs) working on call 11 to 19 hours each week, the annual on-call compensation was $76,300. For those working on call 6 to 10 hours per week, compensation dropped to $38,400. Physicians on call 3 to 5 hours a week brought in a mean of $25,600, whereas PCPs working 2 or fewer on-call hours per week were paid $13,800, MGMA says.

As far as demographics, PCPs in metropolitan areas with populations of more than 1 million realized mean on-call compensation of $43,900, whereas those in smaller metropolitan areas earned $29,300.

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