BY JACKIE LAM
Men continue to make more than women in emergency medicine, but the tide seems to be turning in favor of female EPs. In the last EMN Salary Survey, female EPs earned an average annual salary of $215,338, and male EPs made $267,623 per year on average. That may raise the question of how things are better for women because the 2017 numbers are so similar to those of 2015—the average salary of female EPs was $255,547 and that of male EPs was $299,108 in 2017. Comparing the 2015 and 2017 results, however, reveals that women's average salary increased at a greater rate than men's, and the average salary gap between the two genders has become smaller in the span of two years.
The average salary of female EPs increased by 19 percent, while that of male EPs rose by 12 percent. Previously, men were making 24 percent more than women in the specialty, but that difference narrowed down to 17 percent in 2017.
Our readers clamored for hourly rate data for a fair comparison of income between the two genders when we released our 2015 results, so we added questions about hourly rates this time. We're glad we did because we get to offer some good news—while male EPs still made more than female EPs on average per hour ($195 v. $175), they only made 11 percent more than their female colleagues, a smaller pay difference than when comparing average salaries.
Career satisfaction followed a similar trend: Male EPs still reported higher career satisfaction than their female colleagues, but that distance appeared to be closing and EM women's career satisfaction increased at a higher rate than their male counterparts'. The percentage of female EPs feeling very or somewhat satisfied with their careers hiked up to 85 percent in 2017 from 77 percent in 2015, an eight percent increase, while the percentage of male EPs feeling that way inched up to 86 percent from 84 percent before, up by two percent. On the flip side, the number of women dissatisfied with their careers was still higher in 2017 and career dissatisfaction increased in both groups compared with 2015, but career dissatisfaction grew at a higher rate among men than women. Eighteen percent of female EPs said they were very or somewhat dissatisfied with their careers in 2017 (15% in 2015) v. 15 percent of male EPs (9% in 2015), a three percent v. six percent increase in career dissatisfaction.
The majority of men and women in emergency medicine continued to report feeling very or somewhat satisfied with their employers in 2017, with close to 70 percent of female EPs and 75 percent of male EPs saying so. Once again, men outnumbered women in employer satisfaction in our survey, but a comparison of the 2015 and 2017 data offers a different story: The percentage of male EPs very or somewhat satisfied with their employers actually fell from 78 percent in 2015, while the percentage of female EPs in this category rose from 68 percent. Similarly, the percentage of female EPs very or somewhat dissatisfied with their careers decreased to 18 percent from 21 percent in 2015, but the percentage of male EPs very or somewhat dissatisfied with their careers increased to 15 percent from 13 percent two years ago.
The good news for both genders is that most female and male physicians still clocked in less than 40 hours a week in 2017 at 54 percent and 45 percent, respectively. Compared with our previous survey results, however, fewer women reported working less than 40 hours (57% in 2015), while more men said so (42% in 2015). That doesn't necessarily mean men put in fewer hours in 2017—the percentages of female and male EPs working more than 51 hours increased to 13 percent from nine percent in 2015 and to 16 percent from 15 percent, respectively. The number of hours spent seeing patients was still proportional to the number of hours worked, with a majority of female and male EPs saying more than 30 hours of their time each week were dedicated to seeing patients. The percentages of physicians, male and female, who reported spending this much time with their patients have fallen, however, compared with 2015: More than 52 percent of women logged 31 or more hours with patients in 2017, down from 60 percent, while 61 percent of men reported spending that much time with patients, decreasing from 68 percent in our last survey.
The amount of time female and male EPs spent on paperwork each week changed more drastically: Administrative tasks like completing medical records took up more of female physicians' time than they did their male colleagues' in 2017 v. 2015. The percentage of women who said they dealt with paperwork for more than 21 hours a week increased to 17 percent from nine percent in 2015, while the percentage of men who spent that much time on administrative tasks stayed constant at 16 percent over two years. It's also worth noting that women outnumbered men in the categories of spending 21-30 hours, 31-40 hours, and more than 40 hours on paperwork, while it was the reverse in 2015.
Another surprising finding in gender difference was board certification. More female EPs (90%) than male EPs (88%) said they were board-certified in 2015, but more men (86%) than women (84%) reported having board certification in our most recent survey. These results also showed that the number of board-certified EPs decreased in both groups between 2015 and 2017.
As the discussion of physician wellness spreads, it's no wonder that more EPs, male and female, said they prioritized work-life balance compared with before. Close to 84 percent of female EPs and 86 percent of male EPs said they wanted to be paid fairly but job and lifestyle were as important as salary v. 79 percent of female EPs and 82 percent of male EPs saying so in 2015. In contrast to this, the percentage of female EPs willing to accept a lower salary for the job and lifestyle they wanted fell to 13 percent from 15 percent in 2015, but that of male EPs stayed the same at 12 percent in 2017.
EPs of both genders were also swept up in the wave of change toward goal achievement when it comes to the type of salary increase they received in 2017. Their numbers on this were on par with each other: Fewer female and male EPs said their pay raise was based on a flat percentage at 62 percent, compared with 66 percent and 64 percent, respectively, in 2015. While 36 percent of men and 34 percent of women said goal achievement determined their salary increase in our last survey, 38 percent of male physicians and 39 percent of their female colleagues said so in 2017.
Next month: Then and Now: More on Gender. We'll cross-reference gender with title, age, practice locale, years in practice, and more in next month's salary survey article. We'll also publish that article ahead of print in our enews. Sign up for the enews (free!) at http://bit.ly/EMNenews.
Ms. Lam is the associate editor of Emergency Medicine News.