Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact across the field of medicine, with many medical specialties seeing a decline in their overall compensation—but how did cardiologists fare?

In a recent compensation survey, 46% of cardiologists reported a decline in compensation over the course of 2020 and early 2021. Some additional findings related to income found in the survey include:

  1. The average income for cardiologists is up, growing from $438,000 in 2019 to $459,000 in 2020. Self-employed cardiologists reported the highest earnings at $477,000.
  1. Cardiology is currently one of the highest paying medical specialties, behind only plastic surgery ($526,000) and orthopedics ($511,000).
  1. For the cardiologists who reported a decrease in income, 92% cited reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic, with 13% citing unrelated factors.
  1. Average incentive bonuses remained the same as in 2019, staying at 14% of total salary (approximately $70,000). Of the cardiologists who earned incentive bonuses, 62% received an amount at least three quarters of their potential annual payment, which is higher than the prior year (55%). Collectively, cardiologists generally receive 69% of their potential bonus, which is in line with other specialties.
  1. Of the 46% of cardiologists who reported ill effects to their earnings or practice, 48% believe their income will return to pre-pandemic levels this year, with 38% believing it will take 2 to 3 years before this happens; however, despite some losses to income, 61% of cardiologists felt they are still being compensated fairly.

The survey also questioned several aspects related to work, patient demand, and overall satisfaction. Despite the challenges that arose during the pandemic, not much changed in the cardiology sector in these areas. Related findings include:

  1. Cardiologists reported spending 17.4 hours a week on paperwork and administrative tasks, which did not change much from the previous year’s 16.9 hours per week. Overall, physicians spent an average of 16.3 hours per week on paperwork and administrative tasks.
  1. While the average hours per week remained stable at 57 hours per week, cardiologists reported seeing fewer patients overall (72 vs 77 in 2019), with 43% of cardiologists believing that a decrease in patient volume of up to a quarter is permanent.
  1. Despite the challenges faced, most cardiologists find their work rewarding. The job aspects reported to be most rewarding included being good at what they do (27%), having positive relationships with patients (26%), and making the world a better place (23%).
  1. The largest challenge cardiologists faced was having too many rules and regulations to follow (22%). This was reported across medicine as a whole and continues to trouble physicians’ daily work.
  1. Most cardiologists—86%—said they would choose medicine again as a career, which is higher than physicians overall (78%), with 92% of cardiologists indicating that they would choose the same specialty, which remains unchanged from 2019.

The survey was conducted by Medscape and MDedge and included 17,903 participants across 29 specialties. Among these respondents, 3% were cardiologists.