Managed Care

Business degrees boost pay for physician executives

Physician executives saw their pay rise between 2009 and 2011, but at the slowest pace since 1999–2001, according to a survey of members of the American College of Physician Executives (ACPE) by Cejka Executive Search. “The two-year rate of increase in total compensation — at 5.9 percent — is well below the 11.6 percent increase reported in 2009 and the lowest since the 2001 survey reported a 5 percent increase,” the survey notes.

“Margin pressure, reduced volumes, and public scrutiny in tough economic times all contribute to the impact on executive compensation.”

There are ways to mitigate this, though. Physician executives with postgraduate management degrees were able to maintain an “earning power advantage.” The survey says that if you’re a chief medical officer with a master of business administration degree or a master of medical management degree, you can earn up to 14 percent (MBA) and 16 percent (MMM) more than CMOs who do not have those degrees. Medical directors can earn up to 9 percent more with an MBA or MMM.

Health care reform may also create some opportunities. The survey says that “the need for physicians with specialized areas of expertise may be driving greater earning power for physician executives in new roles. For instance, there were notable increases for physicians responsible for information management....”

The results are based on a survey of about 2,000 ACPE members and include responses from clinician executives at health insurance plans.

2011 compensation based on postgraduate degree

Source: “2011 Physician Executive Compensation Survey,” Cejka Executive Search and the American College of Physician Executives. More information:

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