Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Diagnostic Radiologist / Interventional Radiologist Salary 2017

The two main branches within radiology are diagnostic radiology (DR) and interventional radiology (IR). While the training pathways for both have significant overlap, they represent two distinct career paths. With recent changes by the American Board of Medical Specialties, in conjunction with the American College of Radiology and American Board of Radiology, interventional radiology will become the newest residency-level specialty offered in the United States. Whereas previously, to become an IR, one had to complete a DR residency and then undertake a one year IR fellowship, the new paradigm matches people to an "interventional radiology residency" directly out of medical school. They still do an internship and three year diagnostic imaging training (jointly with the DR residents). However, after taking the ABR Core Exam, they separate out to do two focused years of interventional radiology training.

What effect will this have on salaries for diagnostic and interventional radiology salaries? 

In the short term, not much. The new residency-trained IRs will not hit the job market for at least another five years. Even then, the experience of the working IRs will likely trump the additional clinical training of the new graduates. However, over time, one can foresee a tipping point being reach, where the value of the additional clinical skills outweighs the benefit of experience. Already, in general across specialties, studies have shown that physicians closer to training have fewer medical errors. This finding goes against the conventional wisdom regarding physician experience. For those IRs already in practice, it behooves them to maintain both their technical and clinical skills.

What are the salary trends for radiologists in 2017?

As with any future prediction, many local and national factors must be taken into account to determine salary at any particular location. According to Glassdoor, the national average for a diagnostic radiologist is $291,500 with a range of $158k to $473k. The national average for an interventional radiologist is $388,889 with a range from $144k to $489k. Combining both subspecialties, and utilizing feedback from actual radiologists, Medscape pinned the average radiologist salary at $375,000 in 2016, which represented a 6% increase over the prior year. However, they also note that a radiologist's salary ranges from $336k in the Northwest to $416k in the Southeast, likely representing the interplay of supply and demand.

What other factors play a role in radiologist compensation?

Besides geography, many other factors contribute to a radiologist's ultimate salary and benefits package. Here are several factors to consider:

  • Academic vs. private vs. employed
  • Full-time vs part-time
  • Subspecialty
  • Gender (indirectly / confounded with part-time status)
  • Compensation model
Generally speaking, private practice jobs have better compensation, although in exchange for working more hours. Full-time clearly pays better than part-time. Variation around subspecialty, especially interventional vs. non-interventional will affect additional pay, especially for call coverage. The compensation model (RVU-based, flat salary, hybrid) will also affect one's discretionary income. 

How can I affect the salary I make?

The best way to improve one's salary is at the beginning. Negotiate aggressively for a higher base of pay (within reason). If you already in a practice, you can consider asking for a raise, or looking at other groups to see what the fair market value is of your work. If you find a better opportunity elsewhere, you can either use that as negotiation leverage or potentially take that offer and move. If you are not looking to make a change, another avenue is to research how your practice actually generates revenue. Once you understand that, you can work to either manage costs better or to bring on new service lines to increase the top line revenue the group takes in, which should translate to increased income for you. Good luck in 2017! 

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