2017 Medscape Physician Compensation Report

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 physician 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 so some bias is expected.  With that said, here are the conclusions I drew comparing to the 2016 report:

  1. Slight shuffle at the top - The top 3 earning specialties in this year's survey are Orthopedics ($489,000), Plastic Surgery ($440,000), and Cardiology ($410,000).  In 2016, the top 3 were Orthopedics ($443,000), Cardiology ($410,000), and Dermatology ($381,000).  
  2. Specialty training pays - The more things change, the more they stay the same.  Specialists reported average earnings of $316,000 vs. $217,000 for PCPs - a 46% difference.  However, if you are a PCP, don't expect too much sympathy from the general public as most people will probably still consider you rich.
  3. Physician pay has steadily increased - The sky is not falling after all!  From 2011 to 2017, average physician compensation increased from $206,000 to $294,000 - that's an average annual increase of 6%!  For comparison, inflation has only gone up an average of 1.34% in the same time.
  4. If it's a desirable place to live, expect to make less - The states reporting the highest physician salaries are North Dakota ($361,000), Alaska ($359,000) and South Dakota ($354,000).  Compare that to the states paying the least - Washington D.C. ($235,000), Maryland ($260,000) and Rhode Island ($261,000).
  5. Morale is improving - Depending on specialty, 71-88% of respondents indicated that they would choose medicine again with 64-96% reporting they would choose their same specialty again.  In 2016, those numbers were 47-73% and 25-74% respectively.  That's a pretty big improvement in just one year.

For more, head over to Medscape to see the original report.  What other conclusions can you draw?

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.