EPs are making less, working more, and feeling more exhausted physically and mentally
Emergency medicine has been through several years of upheaval, and one would expect that the COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges in the ED would bring change to the EM workforce. That's exactly what our 2022 Emergency Medicine News salary survey results showed, unfortunately for the worse in some cases, especially in salary.
The average emergency physician today is still likely to be male but less likely so than five years ago, and he is a little younger—41 years old compared with 49 in 2017. The average EP also has slightly fewer years of practice under his belt—12 years versus 17 years. What has stayed the same, though, is that he still lives in the South Atlantic region of the country.
Some of the shifts in compensation may disappoint EPs: The average annual salary dropped by nearly 19 percent to $234,583 in 2022 compared with $288,863 in 2017. And the percentage of EPs who make more than $350,000 per year dropped to 14 percent in 2022 from 28 percent five years before.
On the bright side, EPs were paid more per hour than before. Though the average hourly rate was $196, around 16 percent of our respondents said their hourly rate was between $251 and $300 in 2022, compared with 11 percent reporting that in our last survey. And six percent got more than $300 for each hour of work versus five percent in 2017.
Previously, EP pay raises appeared to be becoming increasingly tied to goal achievement, with that being the case for 38 percent in 2017. But that held true for only 28 percent of physicians in 2022. The average expected bonus was $94,879, and the average salary increase for last pay raise was three percent.
A trend that does seem to have continued is that EPs are spending less time seeing patients. It's worth noting that that is against the backdrop of a mounting workload. The average EP in 2017 worked 40 hours a week and devoted 30 of those hours to patients, while the average EP in 2022 clocks 45 clinical hours every week and spends only 24 of them on patient interactions. The average EP used to work in a hospital with 298 inpatient beds and 31 ED beds, and now he works in a facility with 396 inpatient beds and 32 ED beds. We hate to be the bearer of more bad news, but EPs are also spending more hours per week on paperwork on average: 13 hours versus 11 in 2017.
We added a few new questions to our survey in 2022 to capture how recent events have affected EPs, including how important diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives are to them and their institutions (69% rated it as important or very important), whether their hours had changed during the pandemic (72% said no), whether their salary or hourly rate had changed during the pandemic (81% said no), and how the pandemic had changed their practice (35% felt more exhausted physically and mentally).
There are a lot more insights we're eager to share, but we'll leave you with just the averages this time as teasers for what's to come over the next year. The 2022 survey responses were collected between Aug. 15 and Oct. 31, 2022. A total of 2197 emergency physicians completed the survey compared with 1605 in 2017.
The findings we unearth will hopefully give you a better idea of how to move forward in the existing EM practice environment.
Next month: Part 2: How Much Do Emergency Physicians Make? We'll cross-reference salary data with gender, age, years in practice, and many more data-points to give you the full story behind the numbers.
We are also publishing all of the salary survey articles ahead of print in our enews. Sign up for the enews (totally free!) at http://bit.ly/EMNenewsSignup.
Ms. Spenceris a freelance writer in New York City.