Hospitalist Salary and Compensation

Hospitalist programs must ensure competitive hospitalist salary compensation and structure appropriate and effective incentive programs for their hospitalists and hospital medicine professionals.


Summarized from Hospitalists: A Guide to Building and Sustaining a Successful Program, J. Miller, J. Nelson, W. Whitcomb, Health Administration Press, 2008

The common methods of hospitalist compensation can be grouped into three broad categories:
  1. Straight Salary
  2. Combining Fixed and Variable Salary Components
  3. Compensation Based Entirely on Physician Productivity
View a summary of their pros and cons.

No matter which method you choose, every compensation plan should include the following elements: easy to understand; easy to defend in public; complies with all laws and regulations; can be modified over time (do not tie to closely to current staffing / scheduling system); rewards good work.

These methods do not take into account unique challenges associated with starting a new practice, compensating nocturnists, compensating administrative physicians, compensating academic hospitalists, and transitioning to new compensation schemes.

Conclusion: Most groups should consider connecting tying some portion of compensation to productivity. Also, the compensation approach in many practices should include incentives tied to quality metrics (which might change as often as every year). To be effective, quality incentives should be substantial, representing 10 percent or more of total compensation.

The targeted total annual compensation for hospitalists should consider survey data, but more importantly should reflect the structure of the practice and the local marketplace. Many factors could justify compensation higher or lower than the survey data; the most important one is differences in workload between a particular practice and the survey data.

Resources for Hospitalists


2012 State of Hospital Medicine Report (based on 2011 data)
The report includes in-depth information on hospitalist compensation and production, plus information about:

  • Practice demographics
  • Staffing levels
  • Turnover
  • Staff growth
  • Compensation methods
  • Financial support

2014 State of Hospital Medicine Report Coming September 2014. Pre-order Your Copy Today.

Designing Compensation and Bonus Plans to Drive Desired Behaviors
This 75-minute audio and video recording from the Society of Hospital Medicine’s (SHM) annual conference in 2008 identifies the issues involved in designing incentive compensation plans for hospitalists and cites specific examples of successful programs.

MGMA/SHM survey report shows that compensation model affects hospitalist productivity and salary.

Compensation articles in The Hospitalist – 2012-2013

  • Article: Negotiation Strategies for Better Compensation
    Lisa Ryan
    Published: Feb 29, 2012
    The first step in negotiating is deciding to negotiate at all. Many employers initially offer a lower compensation package because they expect negotiation to occur.
  • Article: Gender Pay Gaps in Hospital Medicine
    Lisa Ryan
    Published: Feb 29, 2012
    Research shows pay gap exists between female and male physicians, and female hospitalists need to be aware and be prepared.
  • Cover Story: When Staying Up Late Should Pay Off
    Jennifer Mejia
    Published: May 22, 2013
    Online survey shows most people support paying more to hospitalists who work overnight shifts