Study of Mich. doctors cites gender pay gap

Karen Bouffard
The Detroit News

Female physicians in Michigan are paid about three-fourths of their male colleagues’ salaries on average, according to a study released Wednesday.

The study also found that Ann Arbor doctors, regardless of gender, are the second lowest-paid in the country, earning an average of $272,398 annually. Only Durham, North Carolina, doctors earn less, averaging $267,598 per year.

Doximity, a social network for physicians and advanced practice clinicians, examined wage data from 2014-17 that was self-reported by 36,000 doctors in 48 specialties including primary care. Researchers compared pay, excluding benefits or other forms of compensation, of doctors who practice at least 40 hours a week. Results were adjusted to control for specialty, geography, years in practice, average hours worked per week, and other provider-specific factors.

Joel Davis, vice president of strategic analytics and growth for Doximity, said the study didn’t look at what caused the pay differences. But he speculated that a large number of physicians in Ann Arbor might contribute to their lower wages.

“Ann Arbor is not only a desirable place to live, it’s a place that trains physicians,” Davis said. “You could have a supply and demand situation that happens which reduces the upper pressure on income.”

The gender pay gap was evident across the country. Nationally, female physicians earn an average of $91,284 less per year than their male colleagues, a 26.5 percent pay gap, according to the study.

The gender difference was evident across Michigan, where female physicians are paid an average $240,462 per year, about 75 percent of the $321,994 earned by male doctors. The gap was smallest in Ann Arbor, where female doctors earn $225,004, or 78 percent of the $287,710 earned by male physicians. In Detroit, female doctors earn about $242,890 annually, which is 73 percent of the $333,629 annual salaries for male doctors.

According to Doximity, the study was the most comprehensive research undertaken to date on physician pay in the United States, examining national as well as local market trends across U.S. metropolitan statistical areas — a first in medical labor market analysis.

“Considering that the cost of a medical education can be upwards of $250,000, sharing detailed data on compensation can be particularly helpful,” Dr. Nate Gross, co-founder of Doximity, said in a press release. “Moreover, the trends identified in this report can provide all stakeholders a view into those areas of the medical labor market that require more attention.”

Researchers found that rural and lower cost cities tended to have higher physician compensation than higher cost areas, such as New York, San Francisco and Chicago.

The highest paying city for physicians was Charlotte, North Carolina, where pay averaged $359,455 annually. Charlotte also had the highest compensation for primary care providers, paying front-line doctors an average $285,109 per year.

“Disparities in compensation directly affect the distribution of physicians around the country, which can impact patient care directly,” said Chris Whaley, lead author and adjunct assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health.