Doctor Salaries in 2015

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%).



U.S. Navy Photo by Photographer's Mate 3rd Class Jeff Stanislawski
U.S. Navy Photo by Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Jeff Stanislawski
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).