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academic salary caps

Discussion in 'General Residency Issues' started by doctalaughs, Apr 3, 2004.

  1. doctalaughs

    doctalaughs Member
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    I've been told that many universities have salary caps for their faculty - for example 180k.

    If you go into academic medicine do these caps apply to most doctors working for the university? I can't really imagine a senior neurosurgeon making 180k. Do the MD faculty get paid partly some other way?
     
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  3. Idiopathic

    Idiopathic Newly Minted
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    A 9-to-5/40-hour work week surgeon who doesnt operate much could make <200k, I would think.
     
  4. kinetic

    kinetic Membership Revoked
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    Salary caps are in place in academic medicine for a reason. They are a tradeoff for the advantages of working for an academic institution.

    1) You get a resident corp to take care of your patients. Regardless of what vibe you get from attendings, they know that having interns, residents, and chiefs who are intermediates for a lot of patients and problems is a plus.

    2) You may take a pass on malpractice. I'm not an attending and I know that a lot of attendings in high-risk specialties have left hospitals because of lack of malpractice insurance, so I'm not absolutely sure of how this works. I have talked with attendings in high-risk specialties in high-risk lawsuit areas who say that they are relatively insulated from the malpractice issue (compared to those in private practice).

    3) You get to use the institution facilities for research (this is a biggie because you can't feasibly conduct research independently without facilities, even if you got funding). The downside is that all of your research is owned by the institution, so if you cure cancer ...you know.


    It is known and expected that if you work for an academic institution you will make less money than if you worked privately.
     
  5. doepug

    doepug Senior Member
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    Every academic institution has a different salary scheme. While it is true that many academicians don't make a private practice income, I think salary caps are rare.

    At my institution, faculty are paid a base salary, based on department and rank (asst vs assoc vs full professor). Most attendings supplement this income with consultancy agreements, honoraria from the lecture circuit, and grants.

    Some well-funded academic institutions in less desirable locations (e.g. Mayo, Wash U) pay base salaries that are comparable to private practice. Most other 'top' academic institutions purposely pay a lower base salary, since they know that faculty will want the advantages or prestige of being affiliated with that university.
     
  6. kinetic

    kinetic Membership Revoked
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    Actually, I guess I shouldn't have said 'caps'. doepug is more accurate in saying that they are given base salaries. Still, I think that there are intrinsic caps in academic medicine, even if they are not institutional policies. (No matter how much you do as an academic physician, I don't think you'll be able to match the salary of a private practitioner.)
     
  7. Kalel

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    I agree with previous posters, I've never heard of a salary "cap". I have heard of a neurosurgeon at Wash U getting paid a salary of a ~1.2 million dollars per year too. I also have heard of a neurosurgical faculty at my school getting paid ~180K per year by shock trauma too though. Regarding the question how faculty supplement their income, many faculty do things like serve as expert witnesses and occasionally testify in medical malpractice cases (both for the plantiff and defense). I've heard that they sometimes get paid ~2,000 just to even look at the case. The other common way people in academics make extra money is by giving talks for pharm companies. Speaker fees can run anywhere from $500-$5,000; avg is probably ~$1,000 around here. Not bad for a one hour talk with free dinner, some travel around and do this at least once per month.
     
  8. beyond all hope

    beyond all hope Senior Member
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    Kinetic, I don't know where you get your information, but academic attendings have no special immunity to malpractice suits. They may have their insurance paid by the hospital like many hospital-based attendings, but they can and are sued by their patients, including patients that are taken care of by the intern that they never even see. So, in some ways, they actually have higher liability than private attendings who are only liable for patients in their direct care.

    As for 'caps', I've never heard of them. Like in the private sector, salaries are based on a number of factors, and in general academic docs make far less money than privates.
     
  9. kinetic

    kinetic Membership Revoked
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    Man, beyond all hope, you're really stretching to look for things to disagree with me about. If you actually read my posts, rather than pre-formulating some minutae to disagree about in midstream, you'd see that:

    1) Nobody ever said that academic attendings are immune to lawsuits. I specifically noted that I realized that (and I can't believe I have to repost this) "I know that a lot of attendings in high-risk specialties have left hospitals because of lack of malpractice insurance, so I'm not absolutely sure of how this works". I also said that my opinion on this issue came from talking with attendings themselves, who stated that they were "relatively insulated" (bold added) from the issue. If you have a disagreement with this statement, maybe you should take it up with those attendings.

    2) In terms of using the word "caps", my reply to the OP stated that "I guess I shouldn't have said 'caps'. doepug is more accurate in saying that they are given base salaries. Still, I think that there are intrinsic caps in academic medicine, even if they are not institutional policies. (No matter how much you do as an academic physician, I don't think you'll be able to match the salary of a private practitioner.)"

    I'm sure it's quite boring for most people to have to read my posts twice (maybe it was boring the first time around). Whatever the case, try reading before you respond.
     
  10. beyond all hope

    beyond all hope Senior Member
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    Kinetic, I'm not actively trying to disagree with you. However, there are a lot of people out here who read this board, and I'd just like to be certain we're not spreading the wrong information.

    As a premed and med student, I had lots of funky ideas about what actually happened in the real world of medicine. I actually DID believe that academic physicians were sheltered from lawsuits. I have since found that to be blantantly false.

    I haven't been sued myself (yet), but I know academic attendings and even RESIDENTS who have been sued. (residents are supposed to be immune from litigation, because they work under an attending's license)

    I think it's important to enter medicine with an realistic viewpoint, lest we become even more disillusioned when we learn the grim reality of 21rst century medicine.
     
  11. Kalel

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    academic physicians are sometimes given discounted malpractice fees because they are infact, sued less often, and when they are sued, they oftentimes have stronger defendable cases (ie they were practicing whatever the consensus is for standard of care despite the bad outcome). They still get sued though, sometimes they are named in suits involving whatever housestaff they are supposed to be supervising.
     
  12. ny skindoc

    ny skindoc Senior Member
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    I am not too sure about academic physicians getting malpractice discounts.In fact academic teaching hospitals are sued more often than community hospitals.Tertiary academic centers tend to be referred complex and difficult cases.These are more likely to result in a poor outcomes which lead to litigation.If academic physicians are somewhat insulated in this sphere it is because they have an institution behind them picking up the tab and planning a defense so its not coming out of their office overhead.Its not because they are sued less or have more defensible cases than private practitioners.
     

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