Physicians experienced extreme income volatility in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with some doctors indicating there were months where they had no income at all.
Despite the challenges in 2020, physicians' salaries have rebounded, along with hours working and with only a slight dip in patient volume, according to the "Medscape Physician Compensation Report 2021."
Based on responses from more than 18,000 U.S. physicians across 29 specialties, the survey—conducted Oct. 6, 2020, to Feb. 11, 2021—found that average salaries for primary care physicians held steady at $242,000 from $243,000 the previous year. Similarly, specialists’ average salaries dropped $2,000 to $344,000.
The report only includes physicians' full-time salaries, excluding bonuses and profit-sharing for employed physicians. For self-employed physicians, the salaries report includes earnings after taxes and deductible business expenses, before income tax.
According to a Medscape report, about 44% of physicians reported reductions in patient volume and nearly 1 in 4 saw a decrease in hours.
So what fueled the rebound? A combination of pivoting to telehealth, leveraging government recovery programs and post-lockdown demand for services blunted the impact of the pandemic, according to the salary survey.