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A Step Forward in Physician Salary Transparency

Dollar signs, numbers, and loopholes are popping up in job ads. Some employers are required by law; others are disclosing salary by choice. Either way, some gains are appearing in physician salary transparency.

New York State will start requiring salary ranges in job descriptions starting September 17, 2023. This applies to any job that “will physically be performed, at least in part, in” NY, or reports to a supervisor/office in NY.

This guest post from Christopher Wang of White Coat Salary Blog will take a look at the new New York State law, the pay transparency landscape, and current salary transparency in NYC for physician jobs.

Building blocks

New York will follow CA, CO and WA in requiring salary ranges in job descriptions state-wide. While the state law was in legislation, many local laws in New York popped up. The most talked-about law belongs to New York City (in effect 11/1/2022), but there are a couple more scattered throughout New York!

physician salary transparency

Plea of NYC employers

NYC’s salary transparency law was a big step forward for employees and a large shift for employers. Large changes require large amounts of work.

NYC law initially required salary ranges in job postings starting May 1, 2022. But there was enough pushback from employers to delay enforcement by 6 months.

The letter to the New York City Counsel highlighted an unwanted effect of the new law:

During a labor shortage, or in the context of achieving diversity goals, the posted maximum may be significantly higher than the historical salary ranges, creating dissatisfaction in the workforce and demands to adjust existing pay scales that the employer may be unable to afford.

And, the letter called for one major change:

We would also propose that only minimum salary postings are required for highly compensated jobs because these are often jobs where salary is not a fair indication of total compensation.

So, employers didn’t want existing employees to find out new hires were being paid more and don’t want to put a maximum range for highly paid positions.

Birds fly, fish swim…

…and work-arounds for laws reveal themselves. NYC provided a fact sheet for employers that clearly laid out guidelines. One in particular:

Employers must state the minimum and maximum salary they in good faith believe at the time of the posting they are willing to pay for the advertised job, promotion, or transfer opportunity. “Good faith” means the salary range the employer honestly believes at the time they are listing the job advertisement that they are willing to pay the successful applicant(s). Employers must include both a minimum and a maximum salary; the range cannot be open ended.

I might have read the guidelines in greater depth than some hospital systems! Three hospitals have multiple job postings that really stretch the definition of “good faith” and are worth highlighting (literally).

Physician salary transparency scorecards

New York Presbyterian has 4 (out of 24) open physician postings with this language.

Actual salaries depend on a variety of factors including but not limited to internal equity, specialty, training, and hospital/community needs. The above salary range represents WCM’s [Weill Cornell Medicine] good faith and reasonable estimate of possible compensation at the time of posting.

Example (archived link)

Montefiore has 38 (out of 127) open physician postings with this language.

For positions that have only a rate listed, the displayed rate is the hiring rate but could be subject to change based on shift differential, experience, education or other relevant factors.

Example (archived link)

Mount Sinai has 97 (out of 163) open physician postings with this language.

As such, an actual salary may fall closer to one or the other end of the range, and in certain circumstances, may wind up being outside of the listed salary range.

Example (archived link)

HUGE salary ranges

In addition, there are wide salary bands present in physician job postings. Five hospitals displayed job postings with extremely large salary ranges with not much guidance for candidates.

We defined a “wide salary band” to be one where the salary minimum is at least $200,000 less than the salary minimum (e.g. a salary band of $400k – $650k).

physician salary ranges

Now, a salary range is better than nothing. After all, physician salaries can vary widely depending on compensation structure. The majority of the hospitals in the above graph are also ones with language that mention salaries can be outside of the range, so it’s still a muddy path forward.

One special job posting

One job posting is worth calling out. The posting has…

  • a salary maximum 1400% percent larger than it’s salary minimum
  • wording that salary can be outside salary range
  • typos present in salary minimum and maximum

If you’ve been following along, it should be no surprise the job belongs to Mount Sinai.

New York City job posting

Link (archived link)

Notable NYC hospital systems

These hospital systems appear to be doing their best to expose useful salary information to job candidates. Almost all jobs have salary ranges and are not absurdly wide.

  • Hospital for Special Surgery
  • Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center
  • Manhattan Psychiatric Center
  • Bronx Care Health System

Hospital systems that have done zero effort to provide salary information:

  • Suny Downstate
  • Wychoff Heights Medical Center

And, to reiterate, hospitals that might have a different definition of “good faith”:

  • Mount Sinai
  • Montefiore
  • New York Presbyterian

What’s next?

New York City is pushing to expand salary transparency to “bonuses, benefits, stocks, bonds, options and equity or ownership…” That will be the most transparent law passed just yet — all current laws only cover base salary.

After September 17th, we can take another look at additional hospital jobs that are under the New York State. It’ll be interesting how the law is enforced and pontentially altering the physician job market in and outside of NY.

Use the data available on physician salary transparency

One main takeaway comes from the rebuttal from employers — noting that new hire compensation can be higher than current employee compensation. Employers can make total compensation difficult to understand (wide base salary range, various compensation structures, etc.), but ultimately any information disclosed is definitely helpful to employees.

Fuzzy compensation data is available in job postings; real data points are co-workers, acquaintances, and former employees. Jordan and I both believe that salary is a topic that is under-communicated. We hope legislation like New York’s Salary Transparency Law can start opening up compensation conversations among physicians.

The data for this article is provided here (with search and sort functionality). Maybe you’ll be able to find some missed insights or your next job!

Visit the White Coat Salary Blog if you’re interested in more articles based on data and research about physician compensation.

What can you do to make sure you are fairly compensated?

Jordan here again!

Physician salary transparency is something that we all should be pushing for. And I support this New York State law.

However, as you can see, it is not a cure-all. And it may be some time before we have truly transparent physician salary data publicly available.

But there are still many things you can do to know your own value and ensure that you make a fair salary for your unique skills!

These posts will help you do just that!

And if you are looking to create alternative streams of income outside of your clinical work, check out these Physician Side Gigs to Make You Passive Money!

What do you think? Is physician salary transparency a valuable goal? How likely is it? Will this law help? Let me know in the comments below!

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    Jordan Frey MD, a plastic surgeon in Buffalo, NY, is one of the fastest-growing physician finance bloggers in the world. See how he went from financially clueless to increasing his net worth by $1M in 1 year and how you can do the same! Feel free to send Jordan a message at [email protected].

    4 thoughts on “A Step Forward in Physician Salary Transparency”

    1. Thank you for sharing this insightful and well-written article.
      I found it to be both informative and thought-provoking.
      Keep up the excellent work, and I look forward to reading more from you in the future.


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