Medscape: Two physician specialties saw compensation drop last year

Survey finds more doctors regret their decision to enter medicine

Orthopedists, cardiologists, and gastroenterologists are the highest-paid physicians in health care, according to Medscape Medical News' annual "Physician Compensation Report."

For the Medscape report, researchers surveyed 19,500 physicians between December 2014 and March 2015. Total compensation included salary, bonus and profit-sharing contributions for employed physicians, and after-tax earnings and deductible business expenses for partners. Medscape also gathered data on job satisfaction and changes in the health care market.

Who earns the most?

Overall, Medscape found that the average primary care physician now earns $195,000 per year, while the average specialist makes $284,000.

According to the report, the top-earning specialties were:

  1. Orthopedics ($421,000 per year);
  2. Cardiology ($376,000);
  3. Gastroenterology ($370,000);
  4. Anesthesiology ($358,000);
  5. Plastic Surgery ($354,000);
  6. Radiology ($351,000);
  7. Urology ($344,000);
  8. Dermatology ($339,000);
  9. General surgery ($317,000); and
  10. Emergency medicine ($306,000).

Meanwhile, the lowest-earning physicians were those specializing in pediatrics ($189,000), family medicine ($195,000), diabetes and endocrinology ($196,000), and internal medicine ($196,000).

Compensation trends: Who's up, and who's down?

Overall, the majority of specialties saw a compensation increase compared to last year, with infectious disease specialists making the largest gains—a 22% increase—followed by pulmonary specialists, emergency medicine doctors, and pathologists.

Who are the healthiest doctors?

The only specialties with a compensation decrease were rheumatology and urology, with 4% and 1% declines, respectively.

Less job satisfaction

This year's survey also found declines in several measures of job satisfaction among physicians. Specifically:

  • 64% of physicians this year said they would choose medicine as a career again, compared to 69% in 2011.
  • 45% of doctors said they would choose their own specialty again, compared to 61% in 2011.

Doctors were also less satisfied with their practice setting, with only about a quarter saying they would choose their current setting, down from half in 2011 (Peckham, Medscape Medical News, 4/21).

The takeaway: Most physician specialties saw an earnings increase in 2014, but doctors reported being less satisfied with their jobs overall, according to a new report from Medscape.

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