By T.J. Porter, WCI Contributor
Becoming a doctor takes a lot of work and requires dedication to the field. That means that most people entering the industry do so because they find medicine interesting. However, there’s no hiding that physicians are paid quite well. They have to be in order to offset things like the burden of educational debt, a long educational process, and other costs.
Though doctors, as a whole, get paid well, compensation varies from specialty to specialty. Each year Medscape publishes an annual compensation report using data gathered from more than 10,000 doctors across nearly 30 specialties. If you’re considering becoming a hospitalist or want to compare your income to that of your peers, we’ll cover the essentials.
Hospitalist Average Salary
Hospitalists are physicians who work exclusively in a hospital setting. The title of hospitalist can include a variety of specialties, making it slightly different from other specialties.
In 2023, the average hospitalist earns $316,000 per year, though hospitalist PCPs took in just $274,000 compared to hospitalists in other specialties, who earned $343,000 per year.
It’s important to note that there is a significant gender-based pay gap in the medical industry. In 2022, the average male hospitalist earned $342,000 compared to $281,000 for female hospitalists, a difference of 21%. Female hospitalists saw a greater increase in income (17% compared to 10%) than males, which helped decrease the gap somewhat.
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Is Hospitalist Income Rising?
Yes, hospitalist income is climbing. On average, hospitalist’s earnings rose by 12% in 2023 compared to 2022. That’s much better than the average raise of 4% that doctors across the board received, putting it near the top in terms of specialties with the highest pay increases.
However, keep in mind that inflation has been high recently with an overall inflation rate of 6.5% in 2022, significantly reducing the increase in purchasing power that hospitalists have seen.
While most hospitalists saw incomes increase, 20% saw a drop in income. Of those facing income decreases, 55% blamed the COVID-19 pandemic and 58% blamed factors unrelated to the pandemic (some blamed both factors for a portion of their decrease in income).
Do Hospitalists Receive Incentive Bonuses?
Yes, many hospitalists report receiving incentive bonuses. Of those who receive bonuses, the average amount rose by 23% compared to 2022. Given an average incentive bonus of $38,000, that means that bonuses make up approximately 12% of hospitalists’ total compensation.
How Hospitalists Work
Hospitalists answered a variety of questions about their employment in the Medscape survey.
The average hospitalist reported working 54 hours per week compared to 50 hours for non-hospitalists. This is a slight increase from the 2022 survey, which reported an average workweek of 52.6 hours per week for hospitalists.
A plurality of hospitalists (44%) reported spending between 30-40 hours per week seeing patients. The next most common response was spending fewer than 30 hours per week with patients (20%), meaning that 36% of hospitalists spend more than 40 hours per week with patients.
Much of that remaining time is spent on paperwork, with 28% of hospitalists spending more than 25 hours per week on paperwork and 80% spending more than 10 hours per week on paperwork. It's then no surprise that the most common complaint for hospitalists was dealing with rules and regulations (20%). Difficult patients and long hours were also common difficulties.
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Do Hospitalists Feel Fairly Compensated?
Hospitalists are split right down the middle when it comes to feeling fairly compensated. Of those participating in the survey, 50% of hospitalists feel fairly compensated and 50% feel like they should earn more. This is a slight decrease from last year when 53% of hospitalists felt their earnings were fair. This puts hospitalists near the bottom of the pack of specialties in terms of feeling fairly compensated. Physicians in most other specialties are more likely to feel like they are fairly compensated than hospitalists.
Increasing Your Physician Income
Physicians tend to make far more than your average worker, but just because your income is above average doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take steps to try to earn more. One key thing for hospitalists to do is negotiate with their employer. Work with your hospital to boost your pay, starting with a good contract that includes strong compensation and favorable terms while avoiding things like high malpractice insurance costs and non-compete agreements.
If you’re about to sign a new deal with your hospital, consider hiring an attorney. We have a list of vetted attorneys and law firms that have experience when it comes to helping doctors negotiate with employers and increase their income.
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