SullivanCotter Physician Compensation and Benefits Survey 2020

MLS Good Call has procured compensation data from the SullivanCotter 2020 Physician Compensation and Benefits Survey*. Their surveys are widely used by US healthcare entities for establishing physician salaries.

We have taken the data and extracted the most important and pertinent information for you – a fellow entering the medical workforce.

Compensation & Productivity

The following data is for Staff Physicians that devote at least 75% of their time to providing direct or indirect medical care to patients, may have teaching- and research-related duties and may be responsible for residents.

Total Cash Compensation (TCC):

The sum of all cash compensation paid to the incumbent as of January 1, 2020, including clinical base salary, administrative, research and teaching (ART) base salary or stipend, incentive compensation and other cash compensation. Does not include on-call pay or pay for extra work such as moonlighting.

Work Relative Value Units (Work RVUs):

Also known as wRVUs, annual work RVUs performed by the incumbent during the most recently completed fiscal year. Included in this calculation are work RVUs using the resource-based relative value units published by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for all payers. The work RVUs are based on work personally performed by the incumbent and include any adjustments made by modifiers.

Total Cash Compensation (TCC) per Work Relative Value Unit (Work RVU):

his is calculated by dividing the TCC reported for each staff physician by their reported work RVUs. The data are only reported for staff physicians for whom both TCC and work RVUs were reported.

Patient Visits

The total number of visits during the 2019 calendar year or most recent fiscal year. Patient visits are defined as a face-to-face patient encounter. These do not include patients seen by supervised APP's, and does not include indirect care services (radiology, pathology).

Compensation Characteristics & Components

Base Salaries

The primary method used to determine physician base salaries is market data, including...

  • SullivanCotter and MGMA surveys
  • The AAMC survey for academic-based physicians
  • or a blend of several surveys

After market research, other points considered include:
  • physician experience
  • historical productivity and performance
  • academic rank

Once salary and incentives are established, adjustments are usually made annually.

Compensation Plan Components

The components used to create a full compensation package vary slightly based on practice setting, with the top 3 being a base salary, wRVU's, and Value- or Quality-Based incentives.

Incentive Plans

The top 5 measures used in incentive plans include:

  • individual productivity
  • patient experience
  • charting timeliness and completion
  • citizenship and
  • access

Compensation Characteristics & Components

Signing bonuses

80% of respondents offer a signing bonus, but if the physician leaves that position within 4 years, 92% of those offers require the bonus is paid back in full. 74% of respondents also offer a median relocation bonus of $10,000.

Student Loan Repayment Assistance

Only 35% of respondents offer student loan repayment assistance with a median amount of $20,000 over a 4-year period. 2% of respondents offer a low-interest student loan financing.

Training Stipend

On occasion, employers will encourage trainees to sign early by offering a cash stipend that is paid through the remainder of their training program. For a 3-year commitment, 9% of respondents offer residents a stipend of $12,000 (median).

On-Call Pay

71% of respondents do provide on-call pay, or pay for services when call in to an onsite facility.

*SullivanCotter partners with health care and other not-for-profit organizations to drive performance and improve outcomes through the development and implementation of integrated workforce strategies.

The SullivanCotter survey is based on 2019 survey data collected through May 2020 (pre-COVID), from:


It is not unusual for this information to be new to physicians (even those many years out of training!!)

So if you have other questions, want more info – or ​​​​if you just want to discuss your options…

Send an email to Robin by clicking here.

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