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Medscape ranks the highest—and lowest—paid specialties

Nearly every specialty saw a salary increase in 2012

Topics: Workforce Planning, Workforce, Leadership, Employment, Physician Issues, Physician Engagement

April 29, 2013

For the first time in several years, physicians in nearly every specialty saw at least a 1% increase in their annual salary, according to Medscape Medical News' 2013 Physician Compensation Report.

Medscape's survey drew on responses from nearly 22,000 U.S. physicians and ranked 25 medical specialties based on average salaries in 2012. Overall, eight specialists earned an average income of at least $300,000 last year.

The increase in health care salaries from 2011 to 2012 may be a result of an improved economy, according to Tommy Bohannon, a vice president at physician recruiting company Merritt Hawkins. "As the economy has gotten somewhat stronger, many people who have been putting off elective procedures are now getting them," he told Medscape, adding that as the "population ages, more knees and hips are giving out and need to be fixed."

The 10 highest-paid specialists

According to the report, the 10 highest-paid specialties last year were:

    1. Orthopedic surgery ($405,000)
    2. Cardiology ($357,000)
    3. Radiology ($349,000)
    4. Gastroenterology ($342,000)
    5. Urology ($340,000)
    6. Anesthesiology ($337,000)
    7. Plastic surgery ($317,000)
    8. Dermatology ($306,000)
    9. General surgery ($279,000)
    10. Oncology ($278,000)

The 10 lowest-paid specialties

Meanwhile, the 10 lowest-paid specialties last year were:

    1. HIV/infectious diseases ($170,000)
    2. Pediatrics ($173,000)
    3. Family medicine ($175,000)
    4. Diabetes/endocrinology ($178,000)
    5. Internal medicine ($185,000)
    6. Psychiatry ($186,000)
    7. Rheumatology ($186,000)
    8. Neurology ($217,000)
    9. Obstetrics/Gynecology ($242,000)
    10. Pathology ($247,000)

Changes in specialties' average salaries

Some specialties saw significant salary increases from 2011 to 2012. Specifically, the average salary for orthopedic surgery increased by 27%, while nephrology increased by 20% and neurology increased by 18%.

Meanwhile, the only specialties that experienced declines in salary were oncology, which saw a 4% decrease, and diabetes/endocrinology, which saw a 3% decrease (Medscape report, 4/25; Crane, Medscape Medical News, 4/25).

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