In a breakdown of its recruiting assignments from April 1, 2011, to March 23, 2012, Irving, Texas-based staffing company Merritt Hawkins reports that 63% (1,710) were for hospitals, compared with 56% (1,495) the previous year and 11% (285) eight years ago.
Still, of the 23 specialties tracked in the 19th annual Modern Healthcare Physician Compensation Survey, only seven saw average compensation increases at or above the 3.2% rate of inflation based on the 2011 Consumer Price Index. This includes a 10.3% increase for intensivists, who saw their average pay rise to $327,456 in 2011 from $296,768 in 2010 to finish 13th highest of the specialties included in the survey.
It was the first double-digit increase seen on the Modern Healthcare charts since the 2008 survey, when plastic surgeons registered a 10.9% increase. The next-highest increases in the current survey are for noninvasive cardiologists whose compensation grew 4.1% to an average of $424,359 in 2011 from $407,694 in 2010; and invasive cardiologists, whose pay rose 3.9% to $479,275 from $461,121.
According to the 16 associations, recruiting firms and staffing companies participating in the current survey, the specialties that had the three highest average compensation increases in last year's survey were among the 10 specialties that saw their pay drop in this year's findings.
Radiation oncologists' average compensation increased 6.4% in last year's survey, but their average pay fell 0.7% in the current survey, to $468,786 in 2011 from $471,901 in 2010. General surgeons' average compensation rose 5.9% in last year's survey, but fell 0.6% this year to $351,318 from $353,460. Meanwhile, plastic surgeons' average pay increased 5.8% last year, but they appeared to give it all back this year and then some: They saw the biggest percentage drop in this year's survey—6.6%—to $382,016 in 2011 from $408,864 in 2010.