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Accuracy of salary surveys?

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  • Accuracy of salary surveys?

    Hey everyone,

    Figuring out what you are worth seems to be a consistent issue for new attendings(like myself).  To those out in practice I am pose the question, how accurate or comparable to your income level do you find the various surveys?  IE MGMA, AGMA, Sullivan Cotter, Cejka, Merrit Hawkins etc.  Do you find your income inline, above, below the reported values? Specialty doesnt matter, but I realize those on this site may also skew based on financial interest alone.


    composite link above.


  • #2
    Ugh. I am way below. But am less than a year out of residency in NY where everyone gets paid less.


    • #3
      The Staffcare compilation is missing MGMA, which tends to be more accurate / higher than some of the others, at least for anesthesia. My employer uses an average of several surveys' regional data to help determine our salaries, which makes them accurate by default for our group.

      The ECG and Merrit Hawkins seems low across the board.


      • #4
        Those always seem high to me across the board (as opposed to what we heard in school/residency), but they usually are also counting all benefits and placing it in the salary column. This is correct as an overall pay structure, but sometimes doesnt match what your paycheck shows. It includes your health, disability, travel/cme, retirement, malpractice, etc...If I add back some of those from a self employed point of view theyre pretty in line. I just started in private practice a few years ago and pay has increased every year and expect it to do so for about another 2 years or so.


        • #5
          I also think the MGMA has seemed the most accurate to me.  I don't think many of those employment firms have any interest in reporting inflated numbers for their own benefit, the differences are more likely to be about how much time, effort, and money they put into obtaining data.

          I also think you have to be careful depending on the specialty.  Some specialties are a little more homogenous than others.  For example, if your specialty has a lot of sub-specialties that may skew the averages these surveys report if they group people together under really broad categories.

          I'll put in a plug for Contract Diagnostics, who I used to review my last employment contract. I was given a breakdown of the MGMA data for my specialty and region and I was able to use it to negotiate a higher starting salary.


          • #6
            We are at the high end of these averages for our salary compensation for full time work - of course most people I work with are not working 100% time which puts most of us at the middle/lower end. Salary + full benefits would be much higher as we have excellent benefits with fully covered health care, pension, etc. This is potentially a very big difference if these are included.


            • #7
              The MGMA data is hard to get to since it needs to be paid for. Maybe this is because they put in more resources to gathering the data, they need paid subscriptions?


              • #8
                Those are fair for the hospital employed gigs in my neck of woods. I found the non employed guys are definitely outliers above and below.

                I'm only a year out and was able to gather each groups salary in Idaho and Utah though interviews or word of mouth. Really wish docs would secretly share this info more with each other - the times I showed people what I gathered they were blown away how discrepancy salaries were. You also see how when one group accepts a crappy contract (usually hca or iasis in this area) how it negatively impacts everyone's market value.


                • #9
                  Echo the above, my pay is much higher than what's listed there

                  I did find the numbers are more in line with the MGMA data which can be very expensive.

                  I asked a recruiter to provide me with those numbers when I decided to enlist their services.


                  • #10
                    One number means little. It doesn't tell you what kind of practice it is, how many hours you're working, how much call, how many nights etc etc. Useless. That's probably why you see such variation. In that list of surveys EM goes from $290 to $350K on average. That's a pretty big range. In reality, I know of emergency docs making as little as $130K (welcome to the military) and others making over a half million. You need a lot more specific data to actually have useable data. And at the end of the day, all you really need is another offer or two. Then you fight them off each other.
                    Helping those who wear the white coat get a fair shake on Wall Street since 2011


                    • #11
                      Most MDs in my neck of the woods are still in private practice.  Certainly, everyone in my group of 10 would have been well over the upper number before I retired. We had a large volume practice but most were working 4 day weeks and taking alot of time off each year. We also ran a pretty efficient practice and malpractice insurance costs were minimal compared to what I see in the recent post discussing that.


                      • #12
                        ophthalmology not on list, but surveys usually higher than what associates earn but much lower than partners earn.  Why because of our high barrier to entry.  Most docs can set up shop with very little funds, it can take about 500k to set up ophtho practice even if you have a built out suite.  We have a lot of staff and we have to see a lot of patients, so associates lose you money for a year at least.