More than 24,000 physicians across 25 specialties were surveyed for Medscape’s Physician Compensation Report: 2014 and reported their annual salary, bonus earnings, and profit-sharing contributions.
Doctor salaries can vary depending on a wide range of factors, including area of specialty. The highest salaries in Medscape’s annual survey were reported by orthopedists, who earned $413,000 a year on average, followed by cardiologists, who made around $351,000 annually, and urologists and gastroenterologists, with yearly salaries averaging $348,000.
Radiologists reported an average salary of $340,000 a year, anesthesiologists made $338,000 on average, while plastic surgeons earned around $321,000 a year. Dermatologists reported an average annual pay of $308,000, general surgeons made $295,000 a year, and ophthalmologists earned around $291,000. They were closely followed by oncologists, who reported annual earnings of around $290,000.
The lowest annual salaries were reported by family medicine doctors, who earned $176,000 a year on average, and HIV/ID specialists, who made around $174,000 a year. The reported salaries were for full-time work only.
Compared to the previous year, rheumatologists had the biggest increase in salary, 15 percent, followed by psychiatrists and mental health specialists (6%), general surgeons (6%), ophthalmologists (5%), pediatricians (5%), and critical care doctors (5%).
The biggest decrease in income was reported by nephrologists (8%), pathologists (3%), radiologists (2%), pulmonologists (2%), and cardiologists (2%).
Men generally earn more than women. They reported an average salary of $267,000 a year, while women earned an annual salary of $204,000 in the same period. Both genders had the same increase in salary compared to 2010, when they earned $225,000 (men) and $162,000 (women) a year on average.
Based on the data provided by the survey, self-employed physicians make $281,000 a year on average, while employed ones earn an average annual income of $228,000.
The gap is significantly smaller in primary care, where self-employed physicians earn an average annual pay of $188,000, while others make $180,000 a year.
Doctor salaries can vary considerably depending on practice setting. The top salaries are in office-based single-specialty group practices, where physicians earn an average annual salary of $273,000, followed by healthcare organisations, where they make $267,000 a year on average.
Doctors working at hospitals earn an average income of $262,000 a year and those employed at office-based multispecialty group practices make $260,000 a year on average.
The lowest reported salaries are in office-based solo practices, where physicians earn around $222,000 annually, and in the academic (non-hospital), research, military and government sector, where they make $198,000 a year on average.
In terms of satisfaction, 50 percent of all physicians reported that they feel fairly compensated. The percentage varies from one specialty to the next, with dermatologists at the top of the list. 64 percent of dermatology doctors reported being satisfied with their income, followed by emergency medicine doctors (61%), pathologists (59%), psychiatrists and mental health specialists (59%), anesthesiologists (54%), and pediatricians (54%).
On the lower end of the scale, only 37 percent of plastic surgeons, 39 percent of pulmonologists and neurologists, and 41 percent of diabetes doctors, endocrinologists and nephrologists feel fairly compensated.
58 percent of all physicians in the Medscape survey said that, if they had to do it all over again, they would choose medicine as a career. 47 percent would choose the same specialty and 26 percent would choose the same practice setting.
Physicians most likely to choose medicine as a career again are internists (68%), HIV/ID specialists (67%), family medicine doctors (67%), pulmonary medicine specialists (63%), and pediatricians (63%).
Those least likely to do so are plastic surgeons (41%), orthopedists (44%), radiologists (45%), anesthesiologists (47%), and general surgeons (48%).
Physicians most likely to choose the same specialty again are dermatologists (77%), orthopedists (64%), ophthalmologists (61%), cardiologists (61%), and gastroenterologists (59%), while those least likely to do so are internal medicine doctors (27%), family medicine physicians (32%), pulmonologists (40%), ob/gyns and women’s health specialists (43%), and nephrologists (43%).
In terms of overall career satisfaction, dermatologists are at the top of the list, with 65 percent reporting they are satisfied with their career. They are followed by psychiatrists and mental health specialists (58%), pediatricians (56%), HIV/ID doctors (56%), oncologists (56%), and emergency medicine doctors (56%).
Physicians least satisfied with their careers are plastic surgeons (45%), neurologists (47%), internists (48%), pulmonologists (48%), general surgeons (48%), nephrologists (48%), and ob/gyns and women’s health physicians (48%).
Salaries by location
Physicians’ annual earnings can vary significantly from one region to the next. Doctors working in the Great Lakes region have the highest salaries, earning $258,000 a year on average.
They are closely followed by their colleagues in the North Central region, who earn an average annual salary of $257,000, and those employed in the Southeast, who earn $255,000 a year on average.
Physicians employed in the Northwest and South Central regions make $249,000 annually on average, and those working in the West report an average yearly salary of $248,000.
Professionals employed in the Southwest earn around $245,000 a year, and those working in the Mid-Atlantic region make $240,000 a year on average. The lowest salaries are reported in the Northeast, where physicians earn an average annual income of $239,000.