Docs $tarting Out

Physician's Money Digest, August31 2003, Volume 10, Issue 16

What can a physician starting out in privatepractice expect to earn? Much depends on thedoctor's specialty, of course. According to thePhysician Starting Salary Survey, published recentlyby the Health Care Group (HCG;, anesthesiologists and radiologists holdthe top spot in terms of first-year compensation,averaging about $230,000 a year. At the low end ofthe scale are pediatricians, at $109,000, with familypractitioners and internal medicine specialists in avirtual tie at about $124,360. First-year OB/GYN doctorsdo somewhat better, averaging $157,358 inincome, while cardiologists are at $183,333 andurologists at $188,857.

The HCG survey also provides relevant statisticson benefits for first-year physicians. Although vacationtime and health insurance are usually seen asstandard benefits, a surprising 4.2% of first-yeardoctors don't get a vacation and 6.4% don't receivehealth benefits. Three of 10 new doctors get a car aspart of their benefit package. About 85% participatein a pension or profit sharing plan, althoughabout two thirds must serve a 1-year waiting periodbefore eligibility.

About half of all first-year physicians can expectto be offered a partnership in a medical groupafter a year or 2, although 22% of the groups surveyedsaid they were offered partnerships onlyafter 2 years of service or longer. Almost 15% ofthe groups offered partnership status to new associatesin less than 1 year.