Medscape, a subsidiary of the medical information website WebMD, has released its 2015 Physician Compensation Report. The data in the report come from more than 19,500 doctors in 26 specialties, who responded to Medscape’s annual survey with information on their compensation for 2014.
The average primary care doctor made $US195,000; the average specialist made $US284,000. But those averages hide quite a bit of variability based on different factors.
The infographic below shows the average earnings for each surveyed specialty. Orthopedists, of whom just 9% are women, were the highest earners:
In an explanation of the survey’s findings last year, Medscape noted that “those who perform procedures have the highest incomes compared with those who manage chronic illnesses.”
Most doctors saw their earnings rise since 2013, with the exception of a slight decrease for rheumatologists. Infectious disease doctors (HIV/ID on the chart above) earned 22% more than last year, and family physicians earned 10% more.
Earnings also vary by region. Average physician income ranges from $US253,000 in the Northeast to $US281,000 in the Northwest. Certain regions of the country may have to pay more to attract doctors, so physician salaries often reflect the level of competition more than the cost of living.
Doctors in rural areas also tend to earn more, and this year’s survey found that average salaries were highest in North Dakota, Alaska, and Wyoming and lowest in the District of Columbia, Rhode Island, and Maryland.
The Medscape survey also found that doctors are about evenly split on whether they think they are compensated fairly, though that varies somewhat by specialty. Dermatologists (average salary: $US339,000) were the most likely to say their compensation was fair; opthamologists (average salary: $US292,000) were the least likely.
Meanwhile, less than a third of primary care physicians — those in internal medicine and family medicine — said they would choose their specialty again if they had the chance for a do-over. Still, the majority wouldn’t change their decision to become doctors.
In fact, doctors with some of the lowest earnings were the most likely to say they would choose medicine as a career if they had to do it all over again. Around 70% of physicians in internal medicine and family medicine would choose medicine all over again, compared to just 50% of high-earning orthopedists.
Overall, only about 9% of all surveyed doctors said “making good money” was the most rewarding part of the job. Instead, they cited things like “being very good at what I do,” “finding answers and diagnoses,” and “gratitude/relationships with patients.”
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