Dr. Renate Savich says she hasn't had a raise in six years.
Savich's neonatology colleagues, however, registered the biggest increase in pay among the 23 specialties tracked in the 20th annual Modern Healthcare Physician Compensation Survey. This year's survey saw more ups than downs and, according to the 13 recruiting firms and professional associations providing data, neonatologists' pay ranged from $246,003 to $328,819 and increased an average of 11.9% to $295,416 from $264,015 the previous year.
“For physicians in academic practice, more and more compensation is being siphoned off to support other aspects of the university's mission,” says Savich, a professor of pediatrics at Children's Hospital of New Mexico in Albuquerque. “Billings may be up, collections may be up, but academic physicians are not seeing these large increases.”
In private practices, however, she says, compensation is being affected by partners' choices to either add more doctors or work more hours (and earn more in the process). Savich says concerns about healthcare reform looms as a major driver in those decisions.
“More groups are concerned about the future and are putting off expanding and have decided to work harder,” says Savich, the chair-elect of the American Academy of Pediatrics' section on perinatal pediatrics.
The dynamics of neonatology are changing as a result of economic and demographic factors, says Dr. Barry Chandler, senior vice president for children's services at Sunrise, Fla.-based Sheridan Healthcare, a provider of anesthesia, emergency department, neonatal and radiology management services.
Chandler, also president of the 300-member Southeastern Association of Neonatologists, says his specialty is seeing an aging workforce, a declining birth rate and a consolidation of healthcare organizations. All of this will lead to a “re-regionalization” of the neonatology field with fewer small departments in community hospitals.