According to the Medscape Psychiatrist Compensation Report 2021, despite the hardships brought by COVID-19, average psychiatrist income grew somewhat, from $268,000 in 2019 to $275,000 in 2020. Nevertheless, many physicians’ offices, including psychiatrists’ practices, closed temporarily or saw fewer patients in 2020 due to the pandemic.

The Medscape report, which surveyed 17,903 physicians across more than 29 specialties, detailed some of this financial impact for psychiatrists, with some of the key findings below.

  • A large majority, 79%, of psychologists who saw a drop in income cited COVID-19-related issues like job loss, reduced hours, and lower patient volume.
  • Psychiatrists had a slight drop, down to 9%, in incentive bonuses versus the previous survey year’s 10%. Of the specialties surveyed with sufficient sample sizes, psychiatry ranked last in average bonus payment at $24,000, which was $2,000 below the next lowest professions, pediatrics and internal medicine.
  • Just over half, or 57%, of psychiatrists who earned an incentive bonus achieved more than three quarters of their potential annual payment, which was down from the previous year’s 66%.
  • Only 41% of psychiatrists who suffered financial or practice-related ill effects due to the pandemic expect their income to return to normal this year.
  • Psychologists spent far more time on average this year, 16.5 hours per week versus 15.9 hours per week from the previous year, on medical-related work outside of patient visits, including time devoted to paperwork, EHR documentation, administrative and managerial work, participation in professional organizations, and clinical reading.

The report also detailed some positives, such as the following.

  • On average, psychiatrists achieved close to two-thirds of their potential bonus, which is about the same proportion as physicians overall.
  • Psychiatrists are back to working roughly the same number of hours as they were pre-pandemic, with 47 hours in 2020 versus 46 hours in 2019. This contrasts to some other specialties that are working 7 or more hours per week than before.
  • Psychiatrists are seeing slightly more patients per week on average this year at 50 versus the previous year at 49. This contrasts to other medical specialists like pediatricians, dermatologists, orthopedists, and otolaryngologists who were seeing 15% to 18% fewer patients than in the previous survey year.

According to the report, self-employed psychiatrists earned more on average at $296,000 than those employed at $266,000. This mirrors physicians overall, with those self-employed earning an average of $352,000 versus those employed at $300,000.

The report also noted that, among psychiatrists, men earned about 20% more on average than women, or $296,000 versus $247,000. Overall, men in primary care earned 27% more than woman, similar to the prior year’s rate of 25% more.