Will We See a Decrease in Psychiatrists?

29 Dec, 2022 F.J. Thomas


Sarasota, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) – Medscape analyst surveyed more than 13,000 full-time physicians across 29 specialties asking about their 2021 income. While recent reports have shown that physician pay has increased in the aftermath of the pandemic, the report indicates that may not be true for all specialties.

The average annual salary for psychiatrists increased $12,000, from $275K to $287K in 2021. The increase represents a little over 4 percent, with the specialty ranking below the mid-level mark and annual US inflation rate that increased 4.7 percent. Additionally, while 57 percent of physicians overall are in an incentive bonus arrangement, average incentive bonuses for psychiatrist also ranked below mid-level at $33K, up a little from $24K the previous year. 

Across all specialties, self-employed physicians earned 20 percent more last year than employed physicians. The same scenario was not true however when broken out by specialty. Psychiatrists that were employed by organizations reported earning 15 percent more than those that were in self-employed practices. 

When asked what competition effected their income the most, 29 percent cited nonphysician practitioners. Eleven percent stated physicians or insurers using telemedicine. Sixty-seven percent stated that their income was not affected by competition. 

Around 4 in 10 psychiatrists are taking on extra work to supplement their income. Seventeen percent state they were doing other medical related type work, and 16 percent stated they were medial moonlighting. Seven percent stated they had taken on additional hours as a physician. 

When asked if they felt fairly compensated, 65 percent of psychiatrists felt they were reasonably paid, resulting in ranking fourth in satisfaction. Around 77 percent stated they would choose to practice medicine again, which is a decrease from 84 percent the previous year. 

Thirty percent of the psychiatrists polled stated that knowing they are making a difference and helping others was the most rewarding part of their job. Twenty-two percent cited gratitude and relationships with patients. Twelve percent indicated the most rewarding part of their job was making money at a job that they enjoyed. 

When asked about the most difficult parts of their job, 25 percent cited rules and regulations, and 23 percent cited dealing with difficult patients. Thirteen percent cited working with electronic medical record systems as the most challenging. 

Female primary care physicians make around 25 percent less than their male peers, for psychiatrist the gender gap is even larger. Around 37 percent of the psychiatrists polled were female. The average annual salary for male psychiatrists is $373K, but for females the average salary is $282K which represents a 31 percent gap. 

While the overall average annual income for psychiatry increased, approximately 1 in 5 stated that their earnings had decreased within the last year. The report relayed several comments that were shocking, especially coming from licensed medical providers. One employed physician stated that their pay was reduced by 20 percent. Another physician indicated their retirement contributions were decreased and they took pay cut in addition. Yet another stated they were just making ends meet. 

Given that healthcare workers themselves are already struggling with mental health, and the fact that mental health providers have seen an increase in the number of patients due in part to telehealth use, one has to question at what point will the disparity of income and burden on psychiatric physicians will reach its limit. 

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    About The Author

    • F.J. Thomas

      F.J. Thomas has worked in healthcare business for more than fifteen years in Tennessee. Her experience as a contract appeals analyst has given her an intimate grasp of the inner workings of both the provider and insurance world. Knowing first hand that the industry is constantly changing, she strives to find resources and information you can use.

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