By Jamie Johnson, WCI Contributor
The COVID-19 pandemic had a huge impact on all of us, but physicians and the medical community as a whole were hit especially hard. Even though physicians had to deal with an increased workload—leading to stress and burnout—doctors, including anesthesiologists, saw their incomes rise by an average of 3.8% from 2020 to 2021. That changed last year, though, as the average physician’s salary actually dropped 2.4% in 2022.
Still, according to Medscape’s latest Anesthesiologist Compensation Report, anesthesiologists have fared well overall in the past few years. The study surveyed more than 10,000 physicians across 29+ specialties to understand how their earnings and job satisfaction has changed.
An Anesthesiologist’s Average Salary
Anesthesiologists typically earn a high income, with an average annual salary of around $448,000. However, this figure can vary depending on your location, your employer, and how many years of experience you have. As a whole, anesthesiologists are in the top one-third in salary of all the medical specialties that were involved in this survey.
Here’s the chart that shows you exactly where anesthesiologists stand with many of their medical colleagues.
Is Anesthesiology Income Rising?
On average, anesthesiologists saw their income rise by 10% from the previous year. As you can see from Medscape’s data, their income increase was one of the top numbers of any specialty.
From 2020 to 2021, the income from anesthesiologists rose 7%. In 2022, that number rose to 10%. In terms of average salary, the income in this specialty has risen from $378,000 to $448,000 in just two years.
Physicians working in oncology and gastroenterology saw their incomes increase the most, while ophthalmology, emergency medicine, and nephrology lost a significant percentage of their salaries. Inflation also remained much higher than normal, affecting a physician’s purchasing power. On average, though, anesthesiologists still were well ahead of the curve when compared to inflation.
In 2021, one in five anesthesiologists said their income actually declined, and among those who saw their salary drop, 67% blamed it on a COVID-related event, like a job loss or a reduction in hours. However, many anesthesiologists feel that competition from non-physician practitioners negatively affected their income as well. For instance, 37% of anesthesiologists felt that competition from nurse practitioners, naturopaths, and chiropractors impacted their income.
More information here:
Do Anesthesiologists Have Incentive Bonuses?
According to Medscape, 57% of all physicians have incentive bonuses in place. Incentive bonuses have been shown to encourage doctors to work harder and earn more, sometimes at the expense of their families. Anesthesiologists in 2022 received an average incentive bonus of $68,000, the exact same number it was for the previous year.
While that $68,000 figure is dwarfed by the average orthopedics bonus of $134,000, it’s more than two times larger than the bonus received by the average pediatrician ($33,000).
Do Anesthesiologists Take on Additional Work to Make More Money?
Roughly one-third of anesthesiologists take on additional work to supplement their income. They do this either by taking on more hours in their current job or by moonlighting at another medical organization. Most do this to fund early retirement, gain financial independence, and pay down student loan debt.
Thirty-five percent of anesthesiologists say they take on additional hours with 13% moonlighting and 12% participating in “other-related medical work.”
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Do Anesthesiologists Feel Fairly Compensated?
About 58% of anesthesiologists feel fairly compensated at their jobs. As you can see from the chart below, this is in the top one-third among the other specialties surveyed, and it’s a big increase from last year when 53% of anesthesiologists said they felt fairly compensated, which landed them in the lower half of all specialties.
Most anesthesiologists are fairly content with their work—75% said that, in spite of the pandemic, they would choose the medical profession all over again. And 87% of anesthesiologists said they would choose the same specialty.
The Medscape survey is not the end-all and be-all of physician salary data. There are other sources out there, and our recommended contract review firms use them to help ensure you are getting paid what you’re worth. Other average salary numbers you can find from surveys done about the same time as the Medscape survey include:
- MGMA: $469,283 (in 2021)
- Doximity: $462,000
- Merritt Hawkins: $367,000 (in 2021)
- AMGA: $453,683 (in 2021)
Increasing Your Physician Income
As a physician, one of the best ways to increase your income is to negotiate your pay and the terms of your contract. Many doctors wind up with bad contracts that leave them improperly compensated, facing high costs and non-compete agreements that limit their future opportunities.
However, you shouldn’t try to do this on your own. If you need help negotiating a new contract, be sure to check out The White Coat Investor’s list of vetted attorneys and law firms to work with. It’s important to have an attorney working with your best interests in mind to ensure you get a good deal.
If you’re an anesthesiologist, do these numbers track with your experience? Did anything surprise you with these numbers? How could you go about making more money? Comment below!