Report: Large Gender Gap Remains in Physician Compensation

Male specialists receive 37% more than women in same field

Male primary care physicians earn 17% more than their female counterparts, while men in specialty care are paid 37% more than women in the same field, according to a new provider compensation report from the Medical Group Management Association. The report includes compensation data from 121,000 providers in the medical practice industry. The findings were described in an article posted on the HealthLeaders Media website.

According to the report, the number of years in a specialty area may contribute to the gender gap in total compensation. While male physicians are paid more than 20% more than women in the specialty areas of family medicine and general pediatrics, they have an average of seven years more experience than their female counterparts who participated in the study.

With regard to productivity, the report finds that men in invasive interventional cardiology are earning more than 25% more than women in that specialty, but show 42% more median work relative value units (RVUs), a measure of value used in the Medicare reimbursement formula.

Similarly, male general orthopedic surgeons make almost 50% more than their female counterparts, but earn more than 80% more median work RVUs.

Suzanne Leonard Harrison, MD, president of the American Medical Women’s Association, told HealthLeaders Media in a series of emails that experience and specialties alone do not account for the disparity in pay between the sexes.

“Women, people of color, and other physicians with minority status are often not given opportunities for advancement, promotion, bonuses, raises, and other forms of payment that those in the majority benefit from on a regular basis,” she asserted.

In general, Harrison said, women are paid less than 80% of what men are paid for the same work, and are promoted less often to leadership positions in their practices, hospitals, and academic centers.

Career advancement for female physicians may be further hobbled by their responsibilities for running the home and taking care of children and aging parents, Harrison added.

“I believe the answer to the issue is largely with administration and leadership, and those courageous enough to address pay equity in a transparent way,” she said.

Sources: HealthLeaders Media; May 11, 2017; and MGMA Report; 2017.