Emergency medicine employs physicians who specialize in diagnosing and treating unforeseen illness and injuries. Two-thirds of these illnesses and injuries occur after doctors' offices have closed for the day or the weekend. Unfortunately, ER departments are decreasing in size while patient visits are increasing. Doctors specializing in this field of medicine, however, should experience good job prospects and earnings.
In 2011, physicians earned an average of $184,650 a year, or $88.78 an hour, notes the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median wage, however, is closer to $187,199 a year, or $90.00 an hour. These figures reflect the salaries of all physicians. An emergency room doctor averages $255,000 a year, according to Merritt Hawkins, a national physician search and consulting firm.
ER physician salaries can vary greatly. As of 2011, doctors specializing in emergency medicine earned as little as $160,000 a year on the low end and as much as $380,000 a year on the high end, Merritt Hawkins adds. Location, size of hospital and demand all influence the earning potential of physicians.
On top of salaries, physicians often receive signing bonuses. In fact, a signing bonus has become a common hiring incentive to attract qualified candidates to clinics, hospitals and other medical facilities. As of 2011, the average signing bonus was $23,790. But not all doctors fetch this amount. On the low end, physicians earned signing bonuses of just $5,000, whereas the high end can reach as much as $200,000.
From 2010 to 2020, the number of physicians jobs is projected to grow by 24 percent, compared to the expected growth of 14 percent for all U.S. occupations. However, the demand could be dampened as more hospitals rely on nurse practitioners and physician assistants to do many of the tasks that doctors do. Physicians specializing in emergency medicine, however, should notice better job prospects than general practitioners.
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