America's Doctors at Work

April 8, 2008

The 40-hour workweek has never been routine for America's physicians, but the 2007 Physician Compensation & Production Survey from the Medical Group Management Association shows that for several specialties, including internal medicine (37 hours), family practice (36.8) and OB/GYN (37.5), the 40-hour week is about average.

“Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.”—Thomas Edison

The 40-hour workweek has never been routine for America’s physicians, but the 2007 Physician Compensation & Production Survey from the Medical Group Management Association shows that for several specialties, including internal medicine (37 hours), family practice (36.8) and OB/GYN (37.5), the 40-hour week is about average.

Specialists with long hours include interventional cardiologists (49.9 hours), anesthesiologists (47.8 hours), and general surgeons (46.3 hours). Those doctors who had shorter weeks were emergency room physicians (38 hours), dermatologists (38.3 hours), and ophthalmologists (39 hours).

The thing about these workweek hours, however, is that they are cited in the survey as “clinical service hours” or time spent on patient care. Nearly all doctors indicate that they devote a minimum of another day per week to “administrative” duties in their practice. In truth, you must add at least another eight hours to the doctor workweek.

As for what the doctor's work brought in, the median gross charges for a primary care medicine practice was about $522,000. That represents a 3.7% growth rate over the previous year and an 18.7% increase over 5 years. The medical specialties with the highest median annual gross charges were otorhinolaryngology and diagnostic radiology (both at about $1.7 million); the lowest was psychiatry ($417,000) and internal medicine ($484,000).

3.9%—Expected average base salary increase for a US worker in 2008.(Towers Perrin, 2008)