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Emergency medicine physician salaries 2023: Income fluctuations continue

Emergency medicine salary report 2023

In the past year, emergency medicine physicians saw a 5% average decrease in salaries despite the steady rise the profession has seen in prior years. According to the Medscape Emergency Medicine Physician Compensation Report 2023, reasons for the change include COVID-19, Medicare cuts, and competition from other kinds of services. However, many EM physicians are making up for these changes and still finding fulfillment in their work by supplementing their income outside their full-time schedule. 

Average income for emergency medicine physicians drops slightly

While emergency medicine physician compensation has seen steady growth over the last several years, 2022 saw a slight dip after a 2021 bump, with an average of $352,000 versus the prior year’s $373,000. That change has caused the profession to come in a little lower than last year’s ranking when compared to other specialties, ranking 15th highest among those specialties surveyed. 2022’s average bonus for EM physicians came in at $37,000, placing it in the lower half of average bonuses across specialties.

Emergency medicine salary in 2023 vs. 2022

About half of the physicians surveyed pointed to the continued impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason for the decrease in salaries and bonuses, while 62% pointed to other causes. Some physicians reported cuts to Medicare being connected with cuts in hours per shift or shifts per month. Others reported that less traffic from senior citizens compared to before the pandemic has also made an impact. 

Outside competition is impacting emergency medicine physician compensation 

Another potential cause for the dip in emergency medicine physician compensation may be competition from non-physician practitioners (such as PAs, NPs, and others), urgent care clinics, and telemedicine services. EM physicians reported competition in similar numbers to last year’s report, with 44% pointing to non-physician practitioners as their largest competitor for providing care to patients.

Nineteen percent reported that more patients are going to “minute clinics,” big-box stores, and medical clinics instead of seeking emergency care. Surveyors also continue to report telemedicine services as capturing flows of patients, though by 1% less than in 2021. 

What compensation affects emergency medicine physician compensation?

Find your niche: Why locum tenens is a great option for emergency medicine physicians

Job satisfaction falls for emergency medicine physicians

The lowered average compensation in 2022 seems to have correlated to a lowered satisfaction for EM physicians, too. When it comes to feeling fairly paid, 51% of physicians said they were satisfied in 2022, but they fell into last place among other specialties when asked if they would choose medicine again, with 65% saying they would. However, a solid 74% still reported that they’d choose their specialty again. 

Percentage of EM physicians who would choose medicine again

Emergency medicine physicians spend less time on administrative tasks than average

Emergency medicine remains one of the professions where physicians can expect to spend less time on paperwork than other specialists — landing in the lower fifth of respondents with 13.2 hours a week spent on administrative tasks. This is compared to an average of 15.5 hours for all physicians surveyed. And time spent with patients is right in line with the average among all full-time physicians, coming in at 55% of their time spent caring for patients. 

Average time EM physicians spend on administrative tasks

Spend more time practicing medicine: Find out how with locum tenens

Challenges versus rewards of emergency medicine

Being good at what they do and finding answers to patients’ problems continued to be the top two reasons EM physicians love their jobs in 2022, closely followed by helping others.

When it comes to challenges in their work, the top area of concern was tied between keeping up with rules and regulations and having to deal with difficult patients, raking in 48% of physicians’ votes. 

Most challenging parts of emergency medicine physicians' jobs

Supplementing income for emergency medicine physicians

Although it appears that emergency physicians are facing some irregularity in average salary earnings, for those who enjoy the part of the profession that helps people, locum tenens work is a good way to supplement income and find fulfillment.

Dr. Katherine Altieri, an emergency medicine physician, has taken assignments in rural areas of Arizona, often working with native populations. “The big picture is to help people, and I think medicine is one of the best ways of doing that. I think it can have a huge impact on not just the patient but their families. In these situations, it can really, really make a difference in people’s lives,” she says.

She also appreciates that locums has allowed her to see how medicine is practiced in various settings. “In emergency medicine, there’s always something different every day at work, but it’s interesting to see how people do medicine in different areas. Also, when I do locums, a lot of the places are places that other doctors don’t necessarily want to go, so a lot of times there’s a medical need.”

EM physicians who take on extra work

Dr. Altieri is not alone in taking on the balance of full-time work and part-time locum tenens assignments. In 2022, 24% of those surveyed said they took on other medical-related work to supplement their income, 17% reported that they participated in medical moonlighting (including locum tenens), and still another 15% added more hours to their primary employment.

Looking to increase your income? Learn how locum tenens pay works for physicians

With traditional full-time compensation in flux in 2022, taking on work through locum tenens is one solution for filling the gaps while continuing to care for patients in a variety of settings.

Emergency medicine physicians are in high demand as locum tenens physicians. Give us a call at 954.343.3050 to learn more or view today’s emergency medicine locum tenens job opportunities.

About the author

Alisa Tank

Alisa Tank is a content specialist at CHG Healthcare. She is passionate about making a difference in the lives of others. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, road trips, and exploring Utah’s desert landscapes.