At last year’s WRA meeting I asked you all to provide me with your gross salary/income in 2016. The purpose was to collect more comprehensive data regarding physician salary in this state for rheumatology. Hospital systems and multi-specialty employer groups are frequently using data from MGMA and other similar companies as a basis for salary negotiations. Those numbers are woefully inaccurate due to small numbers of rheumatologists and a predilection for only reporting hospital-based physicians which does not take into consideration extra income from infusion and other ancillary services.

Hospital systems will frequently offer contracts based on the MGMA number with a moderate salary base and a RVU bonus system based on production. Often times these contracts will include “paid vacation/leave” but be very careful about this type of contract because if you are a person who is actually earning a bonus, then time taken off for leave for vacation will eliminate the RVU calculated for that bonus and thereby disallowing your extra work. In essence, you are paying for your own vacation when you earn above the base salary.

Please use the numbers compiled in the survey as a starting point for salary negotiations and take into consideration the above information. It is also my personal recommendation that any contracts you may sign not include, in any way, a non-compete clause. In the past I had successfully negotiated a four month notification in place of a non-compete clause that was satisfactory to the University of Washington so there is precedents. There are too few of us in rheumatology for any Hospital system or employer group to enforce a non-compete in which only serves to indenture new/young rheumatologists to a particular system for fear of having to leave the city should they not be happy.

It is my expressed goal that all the rheumatologist in this state be happy in their careers, work hard together to achieve good patient care, and be compensated well for that dedication.

See below for the 2017 survey results.

Jeff R. Peterson
President, Washington Rheumatology Alliance


2017 Rheumatology Salary survey for the State of Washington

Twenty nine rheumatologists in Washington State participated in this survey. They answered the question “ What was your income from all sources related to your practice of rheumatology in 2016 based on a 40 hour work week?”

Three classes of respondents were identified:
1) Multi specialty group
2) Single Specialty group
3) Private Practice

1) Multi specialty Practice: 19 physicians responded from this category
Average Salary in 2016 $264,473.
Minimum $220,000
Maximum $300,000
Mode $265,000
Median $265,000

2) Single Specialty: 3 physicians responded from this category
Average $328,333

3) Private Practice: 7 physicians responded from this category
Average $ 400,714
Minimum $250,000
Maximum $700,000
Median $360,000