Medscape’s 2022 Anesthesiologist Compensation Report indicates anesthesiologist salaries continue to rise, while administrative burden remains relatively low compared to other specialties. The annual Medscape survey evaluates physician salary trends and provides insights into job satisfaction, supplemental income opportunities, administrative burden, and the aspects of the job found to be most rewarding and most challenging. Here’s how anesthesiologists responded relative to their peers in other specialties.
Anesthesiologist compensation and bonuses in 2022
Anesthesiologists reported an average salary of $405,000 in 2022, up 7% over prior year earnings ($378,000). These figures place anesthesiologists toward the middle of the specialties surveyed, both in terms of average salary and income gains over 2021 earnings.
Fifty-seven percent of physicians surveyed received an incentive bonus. The average incentive bonus for anesthesiologists was $68,000, an increase from the prior year average of $55,000.
How anesthesiologists feel about their jobs
Approximately half (53%) of anesthesiologists say they feel fairly compensated for their work, a figure which places them in the middle among physician specialties surveyed.
The pandemic also introduced and/or intensified challenging workplace factors for many physicians. When asked whether they would pursue a career in medicine again, just 69% of anesthesiologists surveyed answered affirmatively (down from 75% last year), ranking them in the lowest quintile among specialties represented in the report. However, 86% of anesthesiologists surveyed reported they would choose their specialty again.
Competition in anesthesiology
When asked how competition affects their income, more than half of anesthesiologists surveyed (60%) said their income isn’t affected by competition. However, among the respondents who said their income is affected by competition, most (34%) cited nonphysician practitioners (which includes CNRAs).
Administrative responsibilities for anesthesiologists
Anesthesiologists reported spending an average of 10 hours per week on administrative responsibilities. Notably, this figure is the lowest reported among specialties surveyed and one-third less than the average administrative time reported by physicians overall (15.5 hours per week).
Employed vs. self-employed anesthesiologists
Medscape found that anesthesiologists employed by hospitals, health systems, or other organizations earned an average of 11% more than their self-employed counterparts. This is counter to the trend for physicians overall — where self-employed physicians reported average compensation 20% higher than employed physicians.
Approximately one-third of anesthesiologists surveyed take on supplemental work, including medical moonlighting or locum tenens, medical-related work, or even non-medical-related work. This figure is on par with physicians in general, 36% of whom report supplemental income.
Common reasons for pursuing supplemental work include early retirement, greater financial independence, and outstanding student debt.
Most rewarding / challenging aspects of anesthesiology
When asked about the most rewarding aspects of their job, 27% of anesthesiologists say finding answers and diagnoses is the most gratifying part of their job. Other anesthesiologists (21%) say they enjoy making money at a job they like, and others (21%) feel satisfaction from the feeling of helping others and making the world a better place.
Among the aspects of their work they find most challenging, many cited long hours (25%), rules and regulations (20%), and difficulties associated with being fairly reimbursed by or dealing with Medicare and other insurers (19%) as the most difficult aspects of their job.
For anesthesiologist Dr. Ahmed Abdel Rahman, locum tenens provided the opportunity to lean into the benefits of practicing medicine, while alleviating some of the challenges most commonly cited in the report.
Positive outlook for anesthesiology income
High demand and a shortage of practitioners bodes well for anesthesiologist compensation growth. Overall, anesthesiologists are among the happiest of physician specialties; they have a lower administrative burden and higher earning potential than many other physician specialties. For those looking to supplement their income, locum tenens is a flexible option to pick up additional shifts and practice in new clinical environments.
Chart images from Medscape.com