Daily Briefing

Charted: The highest (and lowest) paid physician specialties


Doximity last week released its latest Physician Compensation Report, which shows the highest-paid specialties and metropolitan areas for physicians in 2023. 

The highest- and lowest-paying specialties

For the report, Doximity surveyed over 33,000 full-time physicians in the United States who practice at least 40 hours a week between January and December 2023. The company also analyzed data from approximately 150,000 compensation surveys from the last five years. All responses were mapped across metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs), and the top 50 MSAs were ranked by number of respondents.

Doximity controlled for several factors in its report, including differences in geography and specialty, how long each provider has practiced medicine, and their self-reported average hours of work per week.

Overall, average physician pay increased by 5.9% in 2023, rebounding after several years of modest or declining growth. However, pressure from inflation continues to impact physicians' actual income. According to the American Medical Association, Medicare physician payments have declined by 26% since 2001, once adjusted for inflation.

When analyzing compensation by specialty, physicians in neurosurgery had the highest compensation, while those in pediatric endocrinology had the lowest.

The highest- and lowest-paying metro areas

Doximity also ranked metropolitan areas where physicians received the highest compensation in 2023. Physicians in San Jose, California, had the highest average compensation at $474,977, while those in San Antonio, Texas, had the lowest average compensation at $371,073.

In 2023, eight of the 50 metro areas included in the report saw average physician compensation grow by over 10%, and 30 metro areas saw growth rates of more than 6%. The MSAs with the highest physician growth rates were Raleigh, North Carolina, at 15.6%, and San Jose, California, at 13.5%.

According to Doximity, these compensation growth rates are considerably different than those observed in 2022. In 2022, only one of the top 10 metro areas had growth rates above 6%, with most growing at rates below 3%.

A gender pay gap among physicians persists

In 2023, the pay gap between male and female physicians declined to 23%, a slight improvement from the 26% reported in 2022. However, the pay gap is still significant, with female physicians earning an average of almost $102,000 less than their male counterparts after accounting for specialty, location, and years of experience.

There were also no medical specialties where female physicians had equal or higher earnings than male physicians. All specialties except for three had gender pay gaps over 8%: occupational medicine (6.5%), hematology (4.3%), and medical genetics (3.5%)

However, Doximity noted that several specialties are narrowing their pay gaps to less than 10%. In 2023, 12 specialties had pay gaps below 10%, compared to two specialties in 2022, and only one in 2021.

How satisfied are physicians with their career and compensation?

In February and March 2024, Doximity surveyed over 1,000 physicians about their career and compensation satisfaction.

Overall, 40% of physicians said they were either satisfied or very satisfied with their current salary and compensation package. However, only 31% of physicians said they believed their compensation reflects their level of expertise and the effort required of their role.

In a separate Doximity poll of over 2,500 physicians, 75% of respondents said they would be willing to accept, or have already accepted, lower compensation for increased autonomy or a better work-life balance. In comparison, 71% of physicians said the same in 2023.

Many physicians are also reporting being overworked. In a recent Doximity poll of more than 2,600 physicians, 81% reported being overworked, and 59% are considering a change in employment, including a new employer, a new career, or retirement.

Although the number of physicians saying they are overworked decreased slightly from 2022 (86%), it's still a significant increase from the 73% who said the same in 2021.

Several factors are contributing to the current burnout crisis among physicians. When asked about what could meaningfully improve physician overwork and burnout, 75% of respondents said reducing administrative burden. Other answers include higher compensation (60%), reducing patient caseload (49%), and more physician autonomy (49%).

(Condon, Becker's Hospital Review, 5/23; Doximity Physician Compensation Report 2024, accessed 5/28)


Provider compensation model not working? Here's how to fix it.

There is no such thing as a perfect provider compensation model. But adhering to these universal best practices increases the chance of successfully developing a new provider compensation model that works for both clinicians and the organization.  Read on to learn five best practices in physician and APP compensation redesign.


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