Physician Compensation 2016

Medscape just released their annual physician compensation report.  For those unfamiliar, physician compensation is a topic with few reliable resources/numbers, leading to much anxiety among residents/fellows.  It is not surprising that objective data on salaries is difficult to obtain as people tend to be private about their incomes for a number of reasons.  Medscape's annual physician compensation report offers a way to gain some insight into this elusive topic.  Please keep in mind that this is a survey-based study from 19,200 physician responders some bias is expected.  With that said, here are the conclusions I drew comparing to the 2015 report:

  1. Slight change at the top - the top 3 paid specialties are Orthopedics ($443,000), Cardiology ($410,000) and Dermatology ($381,000), the former #3 Gastroenterology ($380,000) has been bumped to #4.  The difference is nearly entirely made up by a 12.4% increase in the average income of Dermatology from $339,000 to $381,000.
  2. No change at the bottom - the bottom 3 paid specialties are still Family Medicine ($207,000) Endocrinology ($206,000), and Pediatrics ($204,000).  But all 3 has seen healthy increases in income ranging from 5-7%.
  3. Location! Location! Location! - the 3 top-earning states for physicians are North Dakota ($348,000), New Hampshire ($322,000) and Nebraska ($317,000).  In 2015 they were North Dakota, Alaska, and Wyoming.  Again no surprise, this is simply the law of supply and demand at work.  If you are willing to practice and live in a less desirable location, you will likely be compensated more.  Although it is interesting to see what happens in North Dakota as the current oil prices put a squeeze on the oil boom.
  4. The gender gap persists - men earned more than women physicians, whether they are PCPs ($225,000 vs $192,000, respectively) or specialists ($324,000 vs $242,000, respectively).  However this data is confounded by the fact that female physicians are more than twice as likely to work part time as compared to their male counterparts - 25% vs. 12%, respectively.
  5. Affordable Care Act (ACA) - it is still yet unclear how ACA will affect physician incomes, but it is interesting to note that 26% of physician responders reported an income decrease.

There are a lot more to be learned, take a look at the original report and please comment below if you disagree with or have additional points to add to my conclusions.

Future Proof, MD

Dr. Bo Liu is an aspiring radiologist-in-training and the founder and editor of the White Coat Money Blog.  He has an interest in interventional radiology and helping his medical colleagues get ahead in this mad world of medicine and money.  When he's not crushing the list at the PACS station or typing up your next favorite blog post, you can usually find him at the local badminton club, movie theater or the most recently opened restaurant.