Academic practices gain in salary race

The latest surveys of academic practices by the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) are showing rising salaries among both faculty and management. According to the Academic Practice Management Compensation Survey: 1999 Report Based on 1998 Data, department administrators with clinical operations are reaping the benefits of consolidation in the industry. Their compensation rose 4.2% to $79,310. Administrators without clinical operations saw a 4.5% increase to $65,843 over the previous year.

However, executives in academic practices are doing more work for their compensation, says MGMA survey operations department project manager Jerome Henry, MBA, MSHA. Institu tions are paying more while at the same time trying to lower staffing ratios. Another finding of the survey was that the more experience a manager or administrator had, the higher the pay increase.

The survey costs $75 for members, $95 for affiliates, and $115 for others. It can be ordered by calling (888) 608-5602.

The other academic practice survey, Academic Practice Faculty Compensation and Production Survey: 1999 Report Based on 1998 Data, also showed increases that were higher than inflation. Median salaries for primary care physicians increased 4.6% to $120,000. In the private sector, primary care physicians had only a .86% increase. Specialists in academic practices averaged a 2.6% raise, compared to a half of a percent drop for specialists in the private sector.

According to the project manager for this survey, Jan Krause, MA, the increasing parity is due to universities trying to build primary care networks that are competitive in the managed care contract war.

Family practice leap

The biggest winners among primary care providers were family practice physicians, who saw a 7% rise in compensation to $128,434. Among the specialists, gastroenterologists had a 15.4% jump in compensation to $149,927. The smallest increases — 0.2% — went to diagnostic radiology and rheumatology doctors.

One interesting finding of the survey: a one-year compensation lag among academic physicians compared to private-sector physicians in primary care. For instance, if private-sector doctors see an increase in compensation one year, academic physicians can expect an increase the following year. That trend has continued throughout the 1990s.

The survey is available from the MGMA for $200 for members, $250 for affiliates, and $300 for others.