Physician Salaries See Substantial Gains, Survey Finds

By Steve Barrett
Friday, November 1, 2019

Specialists and primary care physicians (PCPs) alike experienced average salary increases of at least one-fifth from 2015 through 2019, according to the most recent Medscape Physician Compensation Report.

PCPs typically earned $195,000 in 2015, compared with $237,000 in 2019. For specialists, salaries rose from $284,000 to $341,000. Those numbers represent 21.5% and 20% increases, respectively.

Each of the five latest Medscape compensation surveys has included cardiologists and orthopedists among its top five groups of earners.

Specialists in diabetes and endocrinology, pediatrics, and family medicine have consistently been among those earning the least.

Below are the top-earning specialties from the 2019 survey:

  • Orthopedics — $482,000
  • Plastic surgery — $471,000
  • Otolaryngology — $461,000
  • Cardiology — $430,000
  • Dermatology and radiology — $419,000

And here are the lowest-earning specialties:

  • Preventive medicine — $209,000
  • Pediatrics — $225,000
  • Family medicine — $231,000
  • Diabetes and endocrinology — $236,000
  • Infectious diseases — $239,000

The survey draws on responses from about 20,000 physicians in over 30 specialties.

In addition to compensation data, it found that physicians are spending markedly more time on bureaucracy now than in the past. A slight majority spent less than four hours per week on paperwork in 2012, whereas in 2019, almost three-fourths needed more than 10 hours to complete those tasks.