Teaching or practicing: Which is more lucrative?

April 4, 2012

Leaving your private practice for academia may not be a smart move if you're motivated by money. See how the salaries compare.

Your colleagues working in academic practices are earning less than you if you run your own practice, according to survey results released on March 28 by the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA).

Family physicians in academic settings reported median compensation of $173,800, compared with the $189,400 made by family physicians in private practice, according to the MGMA.

As rank increases, so does compensation. Primary care associate professors reported $174,000 in median compensation, and full professors reported median compensation of $198,000. Primary care department chairpersons reported median compensation of $282,300. Specialty care associate professors earned $260,000, and full professors earned $280,000. Specialty care department chairpersons reported median compensation of $506,000.

Geography was also found to influence compensation in academic settings, according to results. General pediatricians in the eastern United States reported $157,000 in median compensation, whereas their peers in the South made $139,000.

“Salaries in academic practices will always be lower than that of salaries in private practices,” said Jonathan Tamir, vice chairman of finance and administration, Department of Internal Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, in a statement. “Physicians in private practices concentrate their effort on providing clinical care to patients, while physicians in academic practices split their efforts between clinical care and research activities. These research activities are never as well-compensated as clinical care.”

The “MGMA Academic Practice Compensation and Production Survey for Faculty and Management: 2012 Report Based on 2011 Data” contains academic-specific data of physician and nonphysician faculty and management. This year’s report contains data on more than 20,000 faculty physicians and nonphysician providers categorized by specialty, and more than 2,000 managers.

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