New Report Names Highest, Lowest Paid Specialties

A new report shows specialists made close to $300,000 on average last year, with primary care doctors earning just less than $200,000. However, those figures vary widely depending on specialty.

The average specialist physician earned $284,000 in compensation last year, while primary care doctors earned an average of $195,000, according the newly released 2015 Medscape Physician Compensation Report.

The data come from a survey of more than 19,500 physicians across 26 specialties and is based on compensation in the calendar year 2014. Overall, it found compensation increased modestly over 2013, though compensation varied depending on whether the physician was self-employed or not, and whether the physician was male or female.

For instance, the 32% of respondents who were self-employed reported significantly higher income: $212,000 for self-employed primary care doctors versus $189,000 for employed primary care physicians; and $329,000 for self-employed specialists versus $258,000 for specialists working for an employer.

In a press release, Michael Smith, MD, chief medical officer of WebMD, said a number of factors could be negatively impacting physician pay, including the end of Accountable Care Organization shared savings programs, competition from retail clinics, meaningful use penalties, and other issues.

Another factor that continues to affect pay seems to be gender. The report found male physicians earned $284,000 on average, while female doctors earned just $215,000. That’s likely related to the fact that the highest-paid specialties are dominated by men.

Almost every specialty saw an increase in average pay in 2014. Infectious disease physicians saw a 22% increase in average pay, propelling them out of the bottom of the physician pay rankings. Pulmonologists’ pay increased by 15% last year. On the other end of the spectrum, rheumatologists and urologists saw slight decreases in pay, on average, of 4% and 1%, respectively.

What follows is a breakdown of the 5 lowest-paid and 5 highest-paid specialties, according to Medscape’s data.

5. Rheumatology

2014 Compensation: $205,000

Percentage who feel “fairly compensated”: 47%

2013 Compensation: $214,000

2013 Rank: 7th lowest compensation

3 (tie). Internal Medicine

2014 Compensation: $196,000

Percentage who feel “fairly compensated”: 45%

2013 Compensation: $188,000

2013 Rank: 5th lowest compensation

3 (tie). Diabetes & Endocrinology

2014 Compensation: $196,000

Percentage who feel “fairly compensated”: 42%

2013 Compensation: $184,000

2013 Rank: 4th lowest compensation

2. Family Medicine

2014 Compensation: $195,000

Percentage who feel “fairly compensated”: 48%

2013 Compensation: $176,000

2013 Rank: 2nd lowest compensation

1. Pediatrics

2014 Compensation: $189,000

Percentage who feel “fairly compensated”: 50%

2013 Compensation: $181,000

2013 Rank: 3rd lowest compensation

5. Plastic Surgery

2014 Compensation: $354,000

Percentage who feel “fairly compensated”: 44%

2013 Compensation: $321,000

2013 Rank: 7

4. Anesthesiology

2014 Compensation: $358,000

Percentage who feel “fairly compensated”: 53%

2013 Compensation: $338,000

2013 Rank: 6

3. Gastroenterology

2014 Compensation: $370,000

Percentage who feel “fairly compensated”: 46%

2013 Compensation: $348,000

2013 Rank: 3 (tied)

2. Cardiology

2014 Compensation: $376,000

Percentage who feel “fairly compensated”: 44%

2013 Compensation: $351,000

2013 Rank: 2

1. Orthopedics

2014 Compensation: $421,000

Percentage who feel “fairly compensated”: 42%

2013 Compensation: $413,000

2013 Rank: 1

To view the ful report, including a wide array of salary data,

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