Emerging role for new niche specialists

New physician specialists like laborists, surgicalists, and nocturnists are beginning to fill specific niches in the provider market. While the data on their compensation are still somewhat limited, their presence should be noted, according to the 2007 Physician Compensation and Productivity Survey Report issued by Sullivan, Cotter & Associates. Laborists treat only women in labor (usually uninsured, walk-in patients), nocturnists work only overnight shifts in hospitals, and surgicalists provide around-the-clock surgical care.

“Based on the data received, the total cash compensation paid to these physicians appears to be slightly lower than the compensation levels paid to other physicians within their respective specialties. These specialties tend to attract newer physicians just out of residency,” says Kim Mobley, principal of Sullivan Cotter and the director of the survey.

In addition, 17 percent of the survey participants reported a decrease in total cash compensation levels for 2007. This is slightly below the 21 percent who reported a decline in 2006. The survey suggests that decreases in total cash compensation are based primarily on physician productivity.

The overall average salary increase in 2006 for specialists was 4.5 percent; primary care physicians reported 4.3 percent. Projections for 2007 are comparable to 2006. In recent year, average salary increases were 3 percent to 3.5 percent, Mobley noted.

With the exception of surgicalists, the newer specialties of hospitalists, laborists, and pediatric hospitalists make less than their established counterparts.

Source: Sullivan, Cotter & Associates, 2007 Physician Compensation and Productivity Survey Report.

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