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Survey: More physicians want to leave their jobs as pay rates fall

Written on Mar 30, 2023

Two out of three physicians are considering an employment change, according to a survey and report out Thursday from Doximity. 

About 36% of respondents said they were considering early retirement due to overwork, with women physicians more likely than men to report that they were overworked and considering an employment change. 

Compensation was stagnant or down across many specialties in 2022, after rising across all specialties the prior year. 

Physicians are reporting high levels of burnout and sentiments about leaving their jobs since the pandemic began, according to Doximity’s report. 

Many physicians are now open to accepting lower pay in exchange for more autonomy and work life balance, according to the survey, with some 71% of physicians saying they have accepted jobs with lower pay or would be willing to. 

The report also looks at annual changes in physician pay, and includes survey responses collected last year from over 30,000 physicians in the U.S. 

The pay gap between male and female physicians fell slightly from 2021 to 2022, from 28% to 26%. 

However, women physicians still earned about $110,000 less on average than their male counterparts in 2022, even when accounting for specialty, location and years of experience. Women physicians earn about $2 million less than male physicians over the course of a career, a 2021 report found. 

Pay gaps vary widely by specialty, though just two specialties had pay gaps of less than 10% — pediatric cardiology and nuclear medicine. 

The specialty with the largest gender pay gap is oral and maxillofacial surgery, where women physicians earn $395,687 on average annually, while men earn $568,789. 

While compensation was stagnant or down across most specialties last year, one area saw higher pay and growing demand. 

Emergency medicine saw the largest annual increase in compensation in 2022, rising 6.2% to an average of $385,554. 

Interest in emergency medicine has waned, exacerbated by a growing number of residency positions left unfilled in the specialty, including in this year’s match. 

Primary care specialties were the most recruited and highest in-demand, falling in line with reports projecting a shortage of primary care physicians in the next decade. 

Psychiatry was the second most recruited and child and adolescent psychiatry was the fifth. The coronavirus pandemic has led to an uptick in rates of anxiety and depression, especially among children.