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Key Takeaways from Medscape’s 2019 Physician Compensation Report

6 Key Points from Medscape's 2019 Physician Compensation Report
Jan Kvita/

According to Medscape’s annual Physician Compensation Report (which includes the survey responses from nearly 20,000 practicing U.S. physicians in 30 specialties), overall physician compensation has been increasing despite the changing political and economic healthcare environment.

The findings suggest that the average compensation for physicians across the nation is $313,000, with primary care physicians earning on average $237,000. Among the top earners include specialties such as Orthopedics earning on average $482,000, Plastic surgery $471,000, and ENT $461,000. Cardiology earned an average of $430,000, Dermatology and Radiology made $419,000.

Other specialities such as Gastroenterology and Urology also exceeded $400,000, averaging $417,000 and $408,000. Anesthesiology earned $392,000, Ophthamology $366,000, General Surgery $362,000, Emergency Medicine $359,000 and Critical Care Physicians earned $353,000.

Pediatrics, Public Health, and Preventive Medicine were the specialties that earned the least, averaging between $209,000-$225,000.

A few other key notes from the report included:

Gender Gap

The Medscape report found that overall male physicians out- earned female physicians by nearly 25%, which is an increase of 7% from 2018.

Ethnicity Pay Gap

As in prior years, Caucasian physicians earned more than other races, with an average income of $319,000. Mixed-race physicians earned $303,000, Hispanic/Latino physicians $303,000, Asian physicians $300,000, and African American physicians earned $281,000.

Employed vs. Independent

Self-employed physicians continue to out-earn their employed counterparts. The average self-employed physician compensation was $359,000, compared to employed physicians who earned $289,000.

Location matters

Location, location, location. While there are many factors that affect how much a physician earns in different regions of the country, overall the top ten ranking states for physician compensation, and average earnings were:

  1. Oklahoma — $337,000
  2. Alabama — $330,000
  3. Nevada — $329,000
  4. Arkansas — $326,00
  5. Florida — $325,000
  6. Kentucky- $324,000
  7. Tennessee- $323,000
  8. Connecticut- $323,000
  9. Georgia- $322,000
  10. Indiana- $322,000

Compensation and practice satisfaction

While compensation is key factor in physician satisfaction, it is not the only determinant. In fact, some of the highest earners reported low levels of satisfaction with compensation. For instance, only 52% of the top-earning orthopedic surgeons reported being satisfied with their earnings. Additionally, 52% of plastic surgeons and 49% of urologists considered their pay satisfactory. However, public health and preventative medicine providers reported 73% satisfaction with their compensation.

Most physicians reported increased regulation as a leading challenge in medicine. Yet, the most rewarding part was the gratitude physicians experienced from and relationships with patients. Overall, the majority of physicians reported they would choose medicine again as their career, and the majority of providers would choose their specialty again.

Average Earnings by Specialty

  • Orthopedics: $482,000
  • Plastic surgery: $471,000
  • Otolaryngology: $461,000
  • Cardiology: $430,000
  • Dermatology: $419,000
  • Radiology: $419,000
  • Gastroenterology: $417,000
  • Urology: $408,000
  • Anesthesiology: $392,000
  • Ophthalmology: $366,000
  • Surgery, general: $362,000
  • Oncology: $359,000
  • Emergency medicine: $353,000
  • Critical care: $349,000
  • Pulmonary medicine: $331,000
  • Pathology: $308,000
  • Physical medicine and rehabilitation: $306,000
  • Nephrology: $305,000
  • OB-GYN: $303,000
  • Allergy and immunology: $275,000
  • Neurology: $267,000
  • Psychiatry: $260,000
  • Rheumatology: $259,000
  • Internal medicine: $243,000
  • Infectious diseases: $239,000
  • Diabetes and endocrinology: $236,000
  • Family medicine: $231,000
  • Pediatrics: $225,000
  • Public health and preventive medicine: $209,000
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About Anne Carrie

Anne Carrie holds an MBA in Healthcare Management and a BS in Marketing. Her experience includes over 10 years of healthcare marketing, administration, recruiting, and business development. She has over 4 years of healthcare writing, copywriting, and editing experience for Hospitals, Medical Practices, and Medical/Healthcare companies. Her work has been published in Becker's Hospital Review, Medical Practice Insider, Physicians Practice, DenistryIQ, HealthITOutcomes, and other healthcare related publications.