Advanced Degrees Influence Physician Executive Pay

How much physician executives earn depends on the type of advanced business degrees they hold, a new survey finds. Where they work matters, too: An executive working in an academic medical center can earn nearly $500,000 a year more than one working for a government facility.

How much physician executives earn depends largely on the type of advanced business degrees they hold, a new survey finds. Where they work matters, too: A physician executive working in an academic medical center can earn nearly $500,000 a year more than one working for a government facility.

One-third, or 33%, of physicians executives surveyed said they have advanced business degrees, according to the 2009 Physician Executive Compensation Survey by recruiting firm Cejka Search in St. Louis., Mo., and the American College of Physician Executives in Tampa, Fla. The study found that the type of degree an executive holds can affect what he or she earns within a particular field, as well. For example, a physician CEO with an MBA can earn 22% more than a physician chief executive without one; a physician department chair with a MMM degree can earn as much as 25% more than his or her counterpart; and medical directors with a MHA degree can earn 18% more than directors without one.

"Healthcare organizations are now mandating advanced business degrees in conjunction with strong clinical expertise for their physicians in executive leadership positions," Lois Dister, Executive Vice President and Managing Director with Cejka Search's Executive Search Division, said in a statement.

The field in which a physician executive works makes as significant difference in compensation levels as well. Physician CEOs and presidents at academic medical centers earned as much as $672,000 in 2009, while their counterparts working at government facilities earned about $185,000. The study also found that physician CEOs at health-system corporate offices earned a median of $400,910; physician chief executives at hospitals earned a median of $367,500; physician CEOs at multi-specialty groups earned a median of $448,500; physician chief executives at physician-hospital organizations earned a median of $395,000; and the median compensation for physician CEOs at single-specialty groups was $384,500.