Exclusive Earnings Survey: How are you doing?

October 20, 2006

Compare your earnings with those of colleagues in your specialy and others. The news for primary care physicians is a bit better.

The earnings tide may be turning. For the first time in years, gains posted by primary care physicians are outpacing those made by physicians as a whole.

But "primary care" is a large tent, and some primary care specialties did much better than others. FPs' median compensation increased by just 2 percent last year, vs the 5 percent gain posted by internists. (In 2004, FPs lost 2 percent, and internists' earnings were flat.) GPs actually copped top prize, beating out gains posted in all specialties with a 17 percent increase in total compensation from $120,000 to $140,000. And they must have done it by cutting costs, because their median practice revenue fell 21 percent from 2004 levels.

But if primary care is doing better, the dip we noted last year among specialists has continued. What specialties are being hit so hard that they bring down the "all respondents" number? Nephrology, for one. In 2005, nephrologists experienced a 4 percent drop in total compensation, and that's on top of the same size decrease the year before. Allergists/allergy immunologists plunged a steep 10 percent in 2005, and ob/gyns and urologists also posted losses.