April 5, 2017

The highest-paid doctors, according to Medscape

Daily Briefing

Almost all types of doctors reported higher earnings in 2017 than 2016, according to Medscape's annual physician compensation report. But one specialty—pediatrics—bucked the trend with lower compensation overall.

See last year's report

For the report, Medscape surveyed about 19,200 doctors across 27 specialties between Dec. 20, 2016, and March 7, 2017. Physicians reported their total compensation for providing care. For example, employed clinicians reported their salary, bonus, and income from profit-sharing arrangements.

Key findings

On average, physicians reported an average annual full-time compensation package of $294,000. Overall, however, specialists' compensation—which averaged $316,000—was 46 percent higher than their peers working in primary care, whose compensation averaged $217,000.

According to MedScape, the top five specialties with the highest average compensation packages in 2017 were:

  • Orthopedics, at $489,000;
  • Plastic surgery, at $440,00;
  • Cardiology, at $410,000;
  • Urology, at $400,000; and
  • Otolaryngology, at $398,000.

Meanwhile, the five specialties with the lowest compensation packages were:

  • Infectious disease, at $228,000;
  • Internal Medicine, at $225,000;
  • Endocrinology, at $220,000;
  • Family Medicine, at $209,000; and
  • Pediatrics, at $202,000.

Total compensation for a number of specialties increased compared with 2016. The five specialties with the highest percentage increase were:

  • Plastic surgery, up 24 percent;
  • Allergy and immunology, up 16 percent;
  • Otolaryngology, up 13 percent;
  • Ophthalmology, up 12 percent; and
  • Pulmonary medicine, up 11 percent.

The only specialties that did not see an increase in pay were oncology and cardiology (which were flat) and pediatrics (which fell 1 percent).

Geographic and other trends

Overall, the regions with the highest average compensation packages were:

  • North Central, at $371,000; and
  • Great Lakes, at $303,000.

The lowest regions with the lowest average compensation packages were:

  • West, at $298,000; and
  • Mid-Atlantic, at $282,000.

The survey also revealed other compensation differences. For instance, Canadian-trained physicians earned more on average ($328,000) than U.S.-trained doctors ($301,000). Employed physicians also tended to earn less on average ($269,000) than self-employed physicians ($343,000).

Disparities in gender, race

Medscape also surveyed respondents about their gender and—for the first time—about their race and ethnicity.

According to the survey, female physicians were compensated 35 percent less, on average, than their male peers. Some of the pay gap may be attributable to the fact that more women say they work part-time (22 percent) than men (11 percent), the survey found. And there are some signs that the pay gap will narrow with time: For instance, among doctors under the age of 34, the gap is 18 percent.

The survey also spotted disparities in compensation by race and ethnicity, with physicians who identify as:

  • White/Caucasian reporting average annual compensation of $303,000;
  • Asian reporting average annual compensation of $283,000;
  • Hispanic/Latino reporting average annual compensation of $271,000; and
  • Black/African-American reporting average annual compensation of $262,000 (Grisham, Medscape report, 4/5).

The changing physician workforce

The changing physician workforce

Concerns about physician burnout have made national headlines, and the stresses facing health care providers continue to grow. Vendors that want to work with physicians need to understand this new clinical environment before they can succeed.

Check out the infographic to get a breakdown of the changes that are impacting the physician workforce. You'll also learn four new rules of engagement to help suppliers and service firms realign their offerings with the realities of health care providers.

Download the infographic

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