Increasing cardiac procedural volume, a shortage of practicing cardiac anesthesiologists, and growth in specialist physician compensation would be expected to increase cardiac anesthesiologist compensation and work load. Additionally, more cardiac anesthesiologists are graduating from accredited fellowships and completing echocardiography certification. The Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists (SCA) biannual salary survey longitudinally measures these data; we analyzed these data from 2010 to 2020 and hypothesized survey respondent inflation-adjusted total compensation, work load, and training would increase. For the primary outcome, we adjusted the median reported annual gross taxable income for inflation using the Consumer Price Index and then used linear regression to assess changes in inflation-adjusted median compensation. For the secondary outcomes, we analyzed the number of cardiac anesthetics managed annually and the most common care delivery staffing ratios. For the tertiary outcomes, we assessed changes in the proportion of respondents reporting transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) certification and completion of a 12-month cardiac anesthesia fellowship. We performed sensitivity analyses adjusting for yearly proportions of academic and private practice respondents.
Annual survey response rates ranged from 8% to 17%. From 2010 to 2020, respondents reported a continuously compounded inflation-adjusted compensation decrease of 1.1% (95% confidence interval [CI], −1.6% to −0.6%; P = .003), equivalent to a total inflation-adjusted salary reduction of 10%. In sensitivity analysis, private practice respondents reported a continuously compounded compensation loss of −0.8% (95% CI, −1.4% to −0.2%; P = .022), while academic respondents reported no significant change (continuously compounded change, 0.4%; 95% CI, −0.4% to 1.1%; P = .23). The percentage of respondents managing more than 150 cardiac anesthetics per year increased from 26% in 2010 to 43% in 2020 (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 1.03 per year; 95% CI, 1.03–1.04; P < .001). The proportion of respondents reporting high-ratio care models increased from 31% to 41% (aOR, 1.01 per year; 95% CI, 1.01–1.02; P < .001). Reported TEE certification increased from 69% to 90% (aOR, 1.10 per year; 95% CI, 1.10–1.11; P < .001); reported fellowship training increased from 63% to 82% (aOR, 1.15 per year; 95% CI, 1.14–1.16; P < .001). After adjusting for the proportion of academic or private practice survey respondents, SCA salary survey respondents reported decreasing inflation-adjusted compensation, rising volumes of cardiac anesthetics, and increasing levels of formal training in the 2010 to 2020 period. Future surveys measuring burnout and job satisfaction are needed to assess the association of increasing work and lower compensation with attrition in cardiac anesthesiologists.