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    Studies Find CRNA Salaries Higher Than Some Physicians'

    By Jennifer Huddleston, staff writer       

    For certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs), compensation trends look bright. A recent blog on The Wall Street Journal Online emphasized the fact that CRNAs generally earn higher salaries than primary care physicians.
    [1] Surprisingly, this is not a new trend—previous compensation studies conducted by national physician staffing firm Merritt Hawkins & Associates show consistently higher salaries for CRNAs than family practice doctors.

    The findings of the Merritt Hawkins & Associates studies, published in the company’s 2008 Review of Physician and CRNA Recruiting Incentives, show that despite both CRNA and primary care salaries increasing overall since 2004, CRNAs have seen increasingly larger gains each year.

    In fact, family practice physicians actually saw a drop in average salary from $150,000 in 2004-05 to $145,000 in 2005-06, while CRNA salaries increased from $150,000 to $156,000 in the same time period. From 2004-08, CRNA salaries increased an average of $35,000, compared to just $22,000 for primary care physicians—despite the fact that Merritt Hawkins & Associates’ family practice searches increased 196 percent in the same timeframe.
    [2]

    Further, a 2006 Merritt Hawkins & Associates & Physicians Practice Physician Compensation Survey showed that more than half of the primary care physicians who reported taking home approximately $150,000 each year also reported that they were “disappointed” with their income in relation to their work efforts.
    [3]

    In the past year, CRNAs recruited through Merritt Hawkins & Associates received salaries averaging $185,000, while family practice physicians recruited through the firm averaged $172,000. The Merritt Hawkins & Associates data varies slightly from other sources, including the Medical Group Management Association, which lists the median compensation for CRNAs at $140,000.
    [4]

    The discrepancy in CRNA salaries could be attributed to the fact that fewer employers go through recruiters to hire CRNAs, and those who do are willing to pay more for them, according to Phil Miller, vice president of public relations for Merritt Hawkins & Associates.
    [5]

    Average salaries for CRNAs recruited through Merritt Hawkins & Associates:
    [6]
    2007-08: $185,000
    2006-07: $164,000
    2005-06: $156,000
    2004-05: $150,000

    Average salaries for family practice doctors recruited through Merritt Hawkins & Associates:
    [7]
    2007-08: $172,000
    2006-07: $161,000
    2005-06: $145,000
    2004-05: $150,000



    [1] Goldstein, Jacob. Some Nurses Land Higher Salaries than Primary Care Doctors. The Wall Street Journal Online. June 18, 2008.

    [2] 2008 Review of Physicians and CRNA Recruiting Initiatives. Merritt Hawkins & Associates.

    [3]  Physician Compensation Survey Reveals “Disappointing” Income Levels. Physicians Practice. July 13, 2006.

    [4] Goldstein, Jacob. Some Nurses Land Higher Salaries than Primary Care Doctors. The Wall Street Journal Online. June 18, 2008.

    [5]  Ibid.

    [6] 2008 Review of Physicians and CRNA Recruiting Initiatives. Merritt Hawkins & Associates.

    [7]  Ibid.



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