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March 20, 2023

Emergency Medicine Salary: What Can ER Doctors Earn?

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Dr. Shefiu Lanre Shittu

President of Daily Care Solutions

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Emergency medicine is a fast-paced and demanding specialty that requires quick thinking, problem-solving skills, and a deep commitment to helping others.

One of the critical considerations for those considering a career in this field is salary. However, there are concerns about competition from other medical providers, administrative burdens, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the profession.

In this article, we’ll explore the opportunities and challenges of working in emergency medicine, with a focus on salary and how it’s affected by various factors.

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Average Income For Emergency Medicine Physicians in 2021

In 2021, Emergency Medicine (EM) physician salaries ranked 13th among surveyed specialties, with an average annual income of $373,000. This salary represents a 5% increase from the previous year’s average of $354,000, making emergency medicine physicians one of the top 10 specialties for compensation growth.

A Medscape survey found that 57% of respondents received an incentive bonus in 2021, with an average bonus of $51,000. This increase from the 2020 average of $44,000 suggests a renewed focus on keeping and retaining doctors satisfied.

The Impact of COVID on EM Physician’s Salaries

It’s worth noting that only some emergency medicine physicians experienced increased income in 2021.

A survey found that one in five doctors reported a decrease in pay, with 84% attributing it to COVID-19-related issues like job loss, decreased patient volume, and fewer work hours.

The Average Incentive Bonuses for EM Physicians

According to a report, 57% of physicians have an incentive bonus arrangement, with emergency medicine physicians receiving an average bonus higher than the previous year’s amount of around $44K.

The report suggests that incentive bonuses can motivate individuals to work harder and increase their earnings to the point where they may spend more time working with colleagues than with friends and family.

EM Physicians and Supplemental Income

According to a Medscape report, 46% of emergency medicine physicians reported taking on extra work in 2021, making them 36% more likely than physicians in other specialties to do so.

Among all respondents, 22% reported taking on additional medical-related work, 18% worked as medical moonlighters, including locum tenens, and 11% added extra hours to their regular schedule.

The Impact of Competition for Emergency Care on EM Salaries

According to a Medscape survey, competition from other medical providers impacted the salaries of emergency medicine physicians. 43% of respondents said that non-physicians like PAs, nurse practitioners, naturopaths, and chiropractors provided care to patients who would have otherwise gone to the emergency department.

Another 19% of respondents said these patients opted for big box stores and minute clinics. In comparison, 14% reported that these patients turned to telemedicine alternatives instead of visiting the emergency department.

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Other Considerations Impacting EM Physicians

Let’s look at some other considerations beyond salary that impact EM physicians.

Compensation and Job Satisfaction for EM Physicians

A survey revealed that 53% of emergency medicine physicians feel fairly compensated. However, the number of physicians satisfied with their careers has decreased from the previous year.

Only 66% of respondents said they would choose medicine again if they could return and choose a different career, which is the second-lowest among specialties.

This response represents a drop from 73% of respondents who said they would choose medicine again in 2021.

Would EM Physicians Choose Medicine Again?

The COVID-19 pandemic and changes in the healthcare landscape have prompted many physicians to leave the profession and have left others feeling disillusioned.

However, despite these challenges, a survey found that physicians are just as likely to enter the medical field now as in 2011. Specifically, 73% of respondents said they would choose medicine again if they could return and choose a different career.

While this is encouraging, it’s worth noting that a slightly smaller percentage of emergency medicine physicians expressed this sentiment compared to last year’s report, which found that 73% of respondents would choose medicine again.

Things EM Physicians Love About Their Jobs

When asked to identify the most rewarding parts of their job as emergency medicine physicians, survey respondents had a few different answers. 28% said they found the most satisfaction in being skilled at their job and successfully diagnosing and treating patients.

23% of respondents said that the most critical part of their work was knowing they were positively impacting the world and helping others.

Lastly, 14% said that building meaningful relationships with their patients was the most rewarding aspect of their work.

Things EM Physicians Hate About Their Jobs

The job of an emergency medicine physician has its challenges. According to a survey, 25% of respondents said difficult patients were the most challenging part of their job.

Another 22% said that rules and regulations made their work challenging. In comparison, 15% cited the fear of being sued as their biggest concern.

Despite emergency departments being on the frontline during the COVID-19 pandemic, only 6% of respondents said that COVID-19 was the biggest challenge of their job.

The Administrative Burdens on EM Physicians

On average, emergency medicine physicians spend 12.8 hours each week on paperwork, which puts them in the bottom third among specialties for the amount of time spent on administrative tasks.

Interestingly, the average amount of time spent on paperwork for all specialties is 15.5 hours per week, which suggests that emergency medicine physicians spend less time on paperwork than many other medical professionals.

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Emergency Medicine is a Challenging, Yet Rewarding Specialty

Emergency medicine is a critical specialty that comes with unique challenges and rewards. While emergency medicine physicians are well-compensated, there are concerns about competition from other medical providers and a growing administrative burden.

Incentive bonuses can be a powerful motivator, though they should not come at the cost of physicians’ well-being or work-life balance. COVID-19 has presented significant challenges for emergency medicine physicians, but they remain committed to their work and the medical field.

Daily Care is a great place to start your search if you’re interested in pursuing locum tenens jobs in emergency medicine or other specialties.

Click Here to find out more about our locum tenens solutions!

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Dr. Shefiu Lanre Shittu

President of Daily Care Solutions

Internal Medicine physician with over 10 years of experience in medical staffing solution. Completed medical education and residency in Columbia University. Provided expert oversight to private groups and hospitals. Contracted services organization and Take charge of establishing three hospitalist programs from inception to completion. Develop the scope of practice and negotiate contracts with other departments and specialties. Perform a wide range of tasks including contract negotiations, revenue cycle and human resource management, process improvement, and introduction of interdisciplinary rounding. Drove key efforts toward the reduction of cost of running programs by approximately 15-20%. Identified staffing needs while creating unique staffing plans for programs.

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