American College of Physicians: Internal Medicine — Doctors for Adults ®

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Practice briefs

How much do internists earn?

According to the AMA's 1996 report on "Socioeconomic Characteristics of Medical Practice," internists in 1994 earned a median net income of $150,000 after expenses and before taxes, putting them at the median income earned by physicians of all specialties. About 40% of that revenue came from Medicare. Between 1991 and 1994, the report concludes, internists' net income rose 6.3%.

The following figures break down median income figures by different groups of internists:

Age group
36-45: $178,900
46-65 years old: $197,000
66 or more years: $102,400

Employment status:
Self-employed: $210,100
Employee: $132,800
Independent contractor: $157,400

Geographic area:
New England: $129,400
Middle Atlantic: $170,200
South Atlantic: $177,000
E. North Central: $172,700
W. North Central: $191,000
E. South Central: $204,700
W. South Central: $177,500
Mountain: $188,200
Pacific: $127,700

Big raises for medical office staff disappearing

For the seventh year in a row, doctors' practices report that they plan to give smaller annual raises to their office staff than they did during the booming '80s. According to the "1997 Staff Salary Survey," published by consulting firm The Health Care Group in Plymouth Meeting, Pa., staff salaries are rising between 2.47% and 4.91% across the country.

This year's raises, which are expected to be slightly lower than last year's, also coincide with the fact that reported problems with high turnover in certain staff positions—such as receptionists and to a lesser degree medical assistants, clerical staff and medical secretaries/transcriptionists—seem to be leveling off. According to the report, nearly 40% of the respondents noted they had "high turnover" of receptionists in 1996, down from 54% in 1995 and 58% in 1994.

Practices, on average, continue to provide good fringe benefits for both full- and part-time regular employees, with 83% of practices providing paid vacation to part-time workers (97% to full-timers); 65% providing paid sick days to part-timers (92% of full-timers); and 51% providing a retirement plan for part-timers (80% of full-timers). Only 65% of medical practices gave full-time employees fully-paid health insurance, with another 25% providing partial payment.

The report costs $150. Information: 800-473-0032.

Thyroid test capability for office-based physicians

Office-based physicians can use a new immunoassay test to do thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) testing in their office.

The Biocircuits IOS System is currently approved to test TSH and Combined T4 and T Uptake. With the new immunoassay system, physicians can perform TSH tests in their office and see results in less than 30 minutes.

Last year, physicians ordered about 136 million thyroid tests, marking an increase of 43% over the past three years. Commercial or hospital laboratories typically performed the tests.

Information: 800-467-0055.

Options for working overseas

Internists who want to volunteer their medical expertise in an underserved country can contact Health Volunteers Overseas (HVO), which sponsors internal medicine programs in three countries—India, Kenya and Uganda. For information about the India program, call John Burk at 817-336-5864; about Kenya, call Robert Einterz at 317-630-6455; about Uganda, call Stephen Gluckman at 215-349-8470.

HVO is also publicizing a call for physicians interested in staff positions with the International Medical Corps, which provides emergency medical relief in areas devastated by war and catastrophe. There are openings for doctors who want to work as immunization advisors in Bosnia and for doctors needed in the South Sudan. Information: 310-882-7800.

New desk reference available

The 51st edition of the "Physicians' Desk Reference" has been released for 1997 by Medical Economics.

The updated edition is the only book of FDA-approved prescribing information. It has been cited as physicians' most important and most frequently consulted reference book.

The 1997 edition has more than 2,600 pages of information on over 3,500 products, including data on drug interactions, side effects, recommended dosages and use-in-pregnancy rating. Information: 800-232-7379.

New newsletters

  • New Medicine describes the nonclinical aspects of health care and focuses on cost containment, quality assurance and efficiency improvement. New Medicine, edited by David Nash, FACP, and Jonathan Seltzer, ACP Member, costs $99 a year. Information: 800-427-1796.
  • Capitation Rates & Data provides monthly capitation rates and benchmark data to support practices' risk-contracting decisions. A yearly subscription costs $459. Information: 800-597-6300.
  • Managed Care Outlook provides up-to-date information on the managed care marketplace. A one-year, 24-issue subscription costs $449. Information: 800-655-5597.

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