Does Your On-call Pay Add Up?

The fight for equal pay in all areas of foot and ankle surgery has been a constant within the profession, with the inconsistencies in hospital on-call pay being one of the top issues ACFAS members face. Many foot and ankle surgeons encounter a lack of data and resources available when it comes to on-call compensation, which is beneficial when in the process of hospital/employer pay/contract negotiations.

To help our members in their fight for fair on-call compensation, ACFAS recently conducted a nationwide survey of our members’ hospital call pay and averaged the results out by state. The results varied in compensation with a nationwide average of $314 per day on-call pay.

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Spearheaded by the College’s Practice Management Committee with both Kristin Strannigan, DPM, FACFAS and Maryellen Brucato, DPM, FACFAS taking the lead on this important project, the survey collected over 1,400 responses from 32 states and provided state averages as well as regional trends.

 Dr. Brucato explained, “The majority of responders did not take call with the overwhelming reason being low compensation or lack of compensation entirely. Responders often described that the cases they received when on-call were less sought after conditions declined by other specialties, such as minor fractures, infection cases and Charcot foot dislocations/fractures.”

While some states were identified as having insufficient data for analysis, most others yielded percentage rates of those who took on-call at their local hospitals, their compensation range, and personal observations on case load and type. It should be noted, average compensation is drawn from the minority of cases where call was compensated. The most southern states including New Mexico and Texas led the nation in call compensation, with the Midwest reporting the lowest pay when data was available.

Members are encouraged to review these findings and compare their current compensation to their state and regional average and invite their peers to do the same. Individual contract negotiations and policy decisions can utilize the following concrete findings from this study:

  • The majority of foot and ankle surgeons surveyed in North America decline working on call due to inadequate compensation.
  • Foot and ankle surgeons report only receiving cases rejected by other specialists on call.

Dr. Strannigan concluded, “We were amazed at the high number of surgeons who are working without any compensation and our hope is this data helps to arm them with the regional data and knowledge to get them paid for call coverage.”  Dr. Strannigan added, “We are also hopeful this will benefit the industry since without this data, foot and ankle surgeons had no ammunition in their negotiations. Plus, the more foot and ankle surgeons we can get back to taking call will only benefit the patients seeking the proper care.”