It is well known that the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted physician compensation across many specialties, especially as many physicians’ offices temporarily closed and nonurgent care and services were put on the backburner, but have dermatologists been as significantly affected as other specialties? According to a recent compensation survey, dermatologists have not been immune to the impacts of the pandemic, with 65% reporting at least some decline in their compensation in 2020 and into early 2021. Five additional income findings from the survey include:

  1. The average income for dermatologists was down almost 20k in 2020 compared with earnings in 2019, averaging about $394,000 versus $411,000 annually, respectively.
  2. In overall compensation, dermatologists still come out ahead of many of their peers in other specialties, with only plastic surgeons ($526,000), orthopedists ($511,000), cardiologists ($459,000), urologists ($427,000), otolaryngologists ($417,000), radiologists ($413,000), gastroenterologists ($406,000), and oncologists ($403,000) reporting overall higher income levels.
  3. 99% of respondents attributed their decreased income to the COVID-19 pandemic, with 17% also citing factors unrelated to the pandemic.
  4. More than one-half of respondents (54%) were optimistic that their compensation would return to pre-COVID-19 levels in the next year, with 31% anticipating it would take 2-3 years.
  5. Despite decreases in income, 67% of dermatologists said they still feel they are being compensated fairly.

The survey also assessed a variety of job demand and satisfaction factors, which revealed that dermatologists are generally doing well in these areas, showing these five key findings:

  1. Dermatologists are not as burdened by paperwork and administration tasks as physicians in other specialties. Respondents reported spending about 14.6 hours per week on such tasks, with the median across specialties being 16.3 hours (range, 24.2 hours in infectious diseases to 10.1 hours in anesthesiology).
  2. Work hours have held steady for dermatologists, with respondents reporting no change in their 45-hour work week.
  3. Patient loads per week were down, with dermatologists seeing about 119 patients per week compared with 141 per week in 2019. Just over half of dermatologists (51%) thought that a 1% to 25% reduction in patient volume is likely to be permanent, whereas 40% felt patient volume will return to normal levels.
  4. When asked to rate the most rewarding part of their job, the highest rated factor was gratitude from and relationships with their patients, reported by 32% of respondents, with only 13% saying it is “Making good money at a job that I like.”
  5. Importantly, 85% of dermatologists said that they would choose medicine again, with 96% reporting they would choose the same specialty.

The survey was conducted by Medscape and MDedge and included almost 18,000 respondents across 29 specialties. Of the dermatologists included, 61% were men and 36% were women.