Medscape surveyed more than 19,500 doctors across 25 specialties for its 2015 Physician Compensation Report. The physicians reported their yearly earnings, including salaries and bonus and profit-sharing contributions.
The average salary reported by primary care physicians was $195,000 a year, while specialists reported earning $284,000 a year on average. 47% of primary care physicians and 50% of specialists said they felt fairly compensated.
Physicians who feel most underpaid are ophthalmologists, with only 40% saying that they feel fairly compensated, followed by general surgeons, allergists and immunologists (41%), orthopedists, nephrologists, endocrinologists and diabetes specialists (42%). Physicians who are the most satisfied with their compensation are dermatologists (61%), ER doctors and pathologists (60%), psychiatrists and mental health specialists (56%), anesthesiologists and radiologists (53%), and pediatricians (50%).
In terms of overall career satisfaction, dermatologists lead the pack, with 64% reporting overall satisfaction. They are followed by psychiatrists (57%), pathologists (57%), ER doctors (56%), pediatricians (56%), and cardiologists (55%). The least satisfied medical specialists are internal medicine doctors (47%), nephrologists (48%), general surgeons (49%), plastic surgeons, endocrinologists, allergists and immunologists (50%).
Physicians most likely to choose the same specialty if they could do it all over again are dermatologists (73%), orthopedists (67%), cardiologists (59%), plastic surgeons (56%), ophthalmologists (56%), and gastroenterologists (55%). The ones least likely to do so are internal medicine physicians (25%), family medicine doctors (32%), nephrologists (37%), ob/gyns and women’s health specialists (40%), and pulmonologists (41%).
In Medscape’s 2015 report, 32% of the physicians said they were in private practice and 63% were employed. 72% of the women and 59% of the men surveyed said they worked for a salary, while 23% of the women and 36% of the men were self-employed.
Self-employed physicians made more than their employed colleagues. Employed primary care physicians earned $189,000 a year on average, while self-employed ones made $212,000 a year. Employed specialists earned an average annual salary of $258,000, while those in private practice earned $329,000 a year on average.
In terms of gender, men earned more than women. Women who were self-employed earned an average annual salary of $259,000, while self-employed men made $324,000 a year on average. Employed women made $203,000 a year on average, while men earned an average annual pay of $249,000. 24% of female physicians surveyed said that they worked part-time, compared with 13% of the male physicians.
Salaries by specialty
When it comes to patient care, specialists who reported top salaries this year were orthopedists, who earned an average annual salary of $421,000, followed by cardiologists ($376,000), gastroenterologists ($370,000), anesthesiologists ($358,000), plastic surgeons ($354,000), radiologists ($351,000), urologists ($344,000) and dermatologists ($339,000).
General surgeons reported earning $317,000 a year on average, while ER doctors had an average annual income of $306,000. Oncologists earned $302,000 a year, pulmonologists made $296,000 on average, and ophthalmologists reported making $292,000 a year. Critical care physicians had an average yearly salary of $283,000, pathologists earned $267,000 a year, and ob/gyns and women’s health specialists made $249,000 a year on average. Allergists and immunologists reported an average annual salary of $247,000 and nephrologists earned $243,000 a year on average.
The lowest earners this year were pediatricians, with an average yearly salary of $189,000, followed by family medicine doctors ($195,000), endocrinologists and diabetes care specialists ($196,000), internal medicine physicians ($196,000), rheumatologists ($205,000), HIV/ID doctors ($213,000), psychiatrists ($216,000) and neurologists ($229,000).
In terms of non-patient care compensation, for activities that include product sales, expert witness duties and speaking engagements, the top earners were orthopedists ($29,000 a year), urologists, plastic surgeons and dermatologists ($26,000), neurologists ($24,000), and nephrologists ($21,000). The lowest earners were radiologists ($6,000), pediatricians ($7,000), anesthesiologists ($8,000), and ob/gyns, women’s health specialists, family medicine doctors, pathologists and psychiatrists ($10,000).
Compared to salaries in 2014, specialists who experienced the largest increase in income were HIV/ID doctors (22%), followed by pulmonologists (15%), emergency medicine doctors and pathologists (12%), and family doctors, plastic surgeons, dermatologists, psychiatrists and mental health specialists (10%). The largest decrease in compensation was reported by rheumatologists (4%) and urologists (1%). These were the only specialties that saw a decrease in income this year.
Salaries by location
In terms of geography, the top earners were in the Northwest ($281,000), South Central ($271,000) and North Central ($270,000). Physicians working in the Southeast earned an average annual pay of $269,000, those employed in the Great Lakes region made $268,000 a year on average, while specialists based in the Southwest reported an average annual salary of $263,000. Doctors working in the West made $262,000 a year on average, while those based in the Mid-Atlantic region earned $254,000 a year. The lowest salaries were reported in the Northeast, where physicians earned an average annual salary of $253,000.
Salaries by state
The top earning states for physicians in 2015 were Alaska and North Dakota, where the average annual salary for doctors was $330,000. Physicians working in Wyoming earned $312,000 a year on average, those based in Wisconsin made $312,000, and doctors employed in Oklahoma earned an average annual pay of $309,000. Physicians employed in New Hampshire made $300,000 a year on average, those working in Minnesota made $288,000, and doctors based in West Virginia earned an average annual compensation of $287,000. Physicians working in Washington and Indiana earned $286,000 on average.
The lowest earning states for medical doctors were the District of Columbia ($186,000), Rhode Island ($217,000), Maryland ($237,000), New Mexico ($243,000), Massachusetts ($248,000), New York ($249,000), Delaware ($250,000), Virginia ($251,000), Utah ($251,000), and Pennsylvania ($255,000).