Is Your Medical Specialty Among the Top Earners?
Want to know what your fellow docs are getting paid? The 2016 Medscape Physician Compensation Report is out. Here are some of the key findings:
The five specialties that are among the top earners are as follows:
- Orthopedics: $443,000
- Cardiology: $410,000
- Dermatology: $381,000
- Gastroenterology: $380,000
- Radiology: $375,000
… And here are the lowest-earning specialties, in terms of cash compensation:
- Pediatrics: $204,000
- Endocrinology: $206,000
- Family Medicine: $207,000
- HIV/ID: $215,000
- Allergy: $222,000
The ER docs are earning $322,000 and the critical care types are making $306,000 on average. And yes, urologists are out-earning OB/GYNs by a healthy margin – $367,000 to $277,000.
These are median earnings, and so There’s quite a bit of variation in the numbers, no doubt. For example, a lot of pediatricians, family medicine practitioners and HIV and infectious disease specialist are working for government and non-profits. These doctors are compensated in other ways. For example, they may qualify for a generous public traditional pension plan often not available to other doctors – unless it’s self-funded using annuities.
Doctors working for non-profits or government agencies may also qualify for student loan forgiveness over ten years.
Many of the higher earning doctors are relatively low-density in public health clinics, and tend to concentrate in private practice.
Specialties such as orthopedics and cardiology also include surgical specialists and non-surgeons. The surgical subspecialists make way more than the median listed here. So there are non-subspecialist cardiologist earning something closer to the middle of the pack.
Allergists reported an 11 percent decrease in income compared to last year. Pulmonary medicine doctors reported a 5 percent income drop. All other specialties were flat or made more money, on average, than in the previous year. The big increases went to rheumatologists, internal medicine specialists, nephrologists, dermatologists and OB/GYNs, who all reported pay increases of 10 to 12 percent.
The North Central region of the United States – comprising North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas is out-paying everyone else. Doctors in these states are earning $296,000, on average. This is actually terrific, because the cost of living in this part of the country is also quite low compared to the rest of the country. If you want to save money and pay down debt in a hurry, consider moving to these states.
The second highest paying market was the Southeast, including Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Florida. Doctors in this region make $287,000, on average, though demand for medicine is quite high in Florida, given the large percentage of seniors.
The lowest-paying market, as it happens, is the relatively high cost of living New York and New England region, with average physician incomes of $266,000.
But let’s boil it down to states. These are the top five markets for doctors in 2015:
- North Dakota: $348,000
- New Hampshire: $322,000
- Nebraska: $317,000
- Alaska: $314,000
- Montana: $304,000
Sure, the weather’s not much fun in the winter. But for the premium doctors command in these states, you will be able to take a few mid-winter vacations to Florida and Hawaii if you want to!
Note: The Dakotas recently experienced a major oil boom with the exploration of the Bakken Oil Fields. That drove prices way up for everybody, and drove wages up as well. As oil prices stabilize, doctor pay increases will likely also slow.
The lowest-earning states:
- Rhode Island: $224,000
- District of Columbia: $226,000
- Maryland: $231,000
- Massachusetts: $257,000
- Michigan: $262,000
- New York: $263,000
- Virginia: $264,000
The DC/Maryland and Virginia area has a lot of military and government health care agencies, so the percentage of physicians working for these organizations will be higher in these states than elsewhere in the country.
New York has relatively low pay for doctors despite high taxes, high burdens on private practices and small businesses, and a high cost of living in much of the state. Not a great value proposition for doctors establishing themselves. Unless you just love New York!
So if you’re just starting out, these numbers can give you a reasonable idea of how much disability insurance coverage might be a good planning number for you.
You can read more details here.