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Hourly Rates for Emergency Medicine Physicians: The Denominator Issue

Emergency Medicine (EM) physicians normally practice medicine within hospital shift schedules and are often paid an hourly rate for actual hours worked. Typically, analyzing physician hourly rates for fair market value (FMV) involves the conversion of industry benchmarks (reported by well-known physician compensation surveys) from annual compensation amounts to hourly rates. For many medical specialties, analysists and appraisers default to a 2,000 or 2,080 hours-per-year denominator for these annual-to-hourly calculations. However, when it comes to EM physician compensation, these “standard” denominators may not reflect the true sum of physician time input. One variable affecting this potential miscalculation is that compared to physicians in other specialties, it is less common for EM physicians to receive paid-time-off (PTO) benefits.

As shown in the infographic, based on BFMV's 2022 study of more than 2,000 online classified ads (110 of the ads included compensation terms), the average rate being offered to EM physicians across the country is $200 per hour. This finding is consistent with compensation statistics reported in well-known physician compensation surveys IF the survey data, expressed as a total annual compensation amount, is converted to an hourly rate using a denominator within the range of 1,440 to 1,880 hours. By applying a denominator within this range, the analyst or appraiser assumes EM physicians average fewer than 40 hours or medical practice per week and do not receive paid vacation, sick leave, or holiday time off (consistent with the terms we found in the online classified ads). (Click on infographic for a PDF copy.)

This article has been updated from an earlier version published 08/16/2016.

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