IRs in private practice earn more than their academic peers, but a fuller comparison suggests a washout of quantifiable pros and cons

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Interventional radiology groups in private practice work slightly fewer hours per week than their university counterparts, 50 versus 52 (median), but they earn significantly more per year – $573,000 versus $451,000 (in median numbers for tenured radiologists and partners).

Academics turn the tables in median starting salaries, trailing privates by $380,000 to $374,000 while working fewer call days per week (five versus six).

The results are aggregated from 357 members of the Society of Interventional Radiologists who responded to a 60-question survey. Respondents represented 258 firms – 100 academic, 158 private – in 40 states.

The project is described in a study published online October 17 in JACR [1].

Corresponding author Lola Oladini, MD, MBA, of Stanford and her colleagues further found that private IR practices accrued significantly more relative value units of work from diagnostic readings than did academic groups.

Here, privates collectively attributed 26% of their total wRVU output to diagnostic interpretations, while academics reported a cumulative total of 7%.

In addition, academic practices reported significantly higher percentages of cases of interventional oncology and complex hepatobiliary intervention, while private practices had significantly higher percentages of musculoskeletal intervention.

The only other measure showing a marked separation between the two domains was for full-time clinical equivalents. Here, unsurprisingly, academic IR groups reported significantly more FTEs—five versus three for private practices.

The authors speculate that this difference is largely due to the non-clinical duties of academics, including teaching and research.

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