What goes into your compensation figure?

Your compensation will vary according to personal and situational factors and nationwide trends. Here’s what you need to know and expect.

By Scott Files | Fall 2016 | Vital Stats


In today’s competitive market, physician compensation can vary based on a variety of factors. The Affordable Care Act has created an increased need for physicians in all specialties, but knowing what to expect when it comes to compensation can be difficult. Of course experience affects what you’re worth to an employer, but there are other factors, too, including location and demand. And you have factors to consider beyond salary—signing and performance bonuses will also affect your overall compensation.

Physician compensation in high-demand specialties

Based on a national sample of physician and advanced practitioner searches, Merritt Hawkins’ 2015 Review of Physician and Advanced Practitioner Recruiting Incentives provides an indication of the types of physicians currently in greatest demand, along with the types of medical settings in which they are recruited.

The chart below shows the average compensation package for physicians for that survey’s top four most in-demand physician specialties, not including production bonuses or benefits.

As you can see, compensation ranges vary widely, even within specialties. For example, a family practice physician can expect an annual salary range between $130,000 and $330,000, with an average of $198,000 per year. The upper and lower limits of this model differ by more than 250 percent, further demonstrating that other factors are in play when determining overall compensation.

Other factors that affect compensation

What are those other factors? To varying degrees, all of the following developments have had an impact on the recruiting incentives offered to physicians:

  • Continued expansion of the Affordable Care Act
  • The accelerating closure of rural hospitals
  • The implementation of population health management through integrated organizations, such as accountable care organizations
  • The expansion of telemedicine, with one third of physicians now using some form
  • Increased scope of practice and demand for advanced practitioners, such as PAs and NPs (NPs can now practice independently in more than 20 states.)

The health care system continues to evolve, but whether care is delivered in small, independent and unconnected silos, orin vast, integrated health systems, and regardless of whether volume or value is rewarded, physicians will be the paramount providers of care and drivers of health care economics.

According to the Boston University School of Public Health, physicians receive or direct 87 percent of all personal spending on health care in the current volume-driven system through hospital admissions, test orders, prescriptions, procedures, treatment plans and related activities. The total combined economic output of patient care physicians in the U.S. is $1.6 trillion, and each physician generates a per capita economic output of $2.2 million while supporting approximately 14 jobs, according to the American Medical Association’s 2014 Economic Impact Study.

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Final thoughts

As a practicing physician, you have lots of options regarding your career. Keep in mind that your skills are in high need, and compensation will vary. The key takeaway is to make sure that you are informed on the recruiting incentives that are being offered in the area where you would like to practice.

There is always room for negotiation, and benefits—including longer vacation time and performance bonuses—can also be factors in determining which type of positions are more in line with not only your career aspirations, but also your specific lifestyle.



Location, location, location

Where you interview and choose to practice can affect your work/life satisfaction.

By Brooke Zimmerman | Summer 2015 | Vital Stats


Just how much difference can your job’s location make?

To find the answer, we took a look at WalletHub.com’s recent report on the best and worst states for doctors. Taking into consideration factors that indicate available opportunities, level of competition, and quality of work environment, the survey aims to “help doctors make informed decisions regarding where to live and work.”

To arrive at these results, data was taken from a variety of publicly available sources to evaluate: physicians’ mean annual wage, monthly average starting salary, number of hospitals per capita, physicians per capita and more.

Such rankings can be helpful, in the sense that it’s good to amass input in any major decision-making process.

But at the end of the day, should findings such as these be the determining factor in where you choose to reside and to practice medicine?

Of course not, says Allan Tasman, M.D., professor and chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Louisville School of Medicine. “Living in an environment you don’t like because you think you’ll have a better job won’t make you happy in the long run,” he says.

WalletHub’s Best States for Physicians

Vital Stats Map


  1. South Carolina
  2. Minnesota
  3. Texas
  4. Mississippi
  5. Kansas
  6. Wisconsin
  7. Tennessee
  8. Iowa
  9. Idaho
  10. North Dakota



Excuse me for asking…

How many people do you know willing to tell you how much they make? Most likely, zilch.

Fall 2013 | Vital Stats


That’s why anyone with a W2 relishes national salary surveys in their profession.

In Medscape’s annual survey, we learn the average compensation reported for 25 specialties—and how the data changed from the previous year.

The region where you practice also matters when it comes to average pay.

This year, there was a change in how the type of practice setting affected compensation. This year—unlike last—employed physicians made more on average than solo practitioners. In fact, compared to last year’s numbers, physicians in employed situations were up on average by $26,000.

How does your situation compare?






















Content reprinted with permission from Medscape (medscape.com/multispecialty), 2013, available at medscape.com/features/slideshow/compensation/2013/public.




















Practice choices by career status

Vital Stats | Winter 2013





How much physicians make

Vital Stats


Selected primary care specialties
Family practice (without OB) $189,402
Internal medicine $205,379
Pediatric/Adolescent medicine $192,148

Selected specialty care specialties
Cardiology: Invasive $500,993
Dermatology $430,874
Emergency Medicine $277,297
Gastroenterology $463,955
Hematology/Oncology $382,934
Neurology $249,867
Obstetrics/Gynecology $281,190
Ophthalmology $330,784
Orthopaedic Surgery $514,659
Radiology: Diagnostic $471,253
Surgery: General $343,958
Urology $372,455

Data from MGMA’s Physician Compensation and Production Survey-2011 Report Based on 2010 Data.



Physician compensation stats

Vital Stats | Web Exclusive


Medscape’s out with their latest physician compensation survey. And though the physician jobs with the highest income are the same as last year—Radiology, Orthopedics, Cardiology and Anesthesiology—the compensation figures as a whole have declined.

For example, the average compensation for Radiologists in last year’s survey was $350,000—and this year comes in at $315,000. Cardiologists and anesthesiologists tied last year at $325,000 for average salary, and this year come in at $314,000 and $309,000 respectively.

These compensation figures were collected from 24,126 physicians nationwide.

Click the link for physician jobs in that specialty.

Radiology: $315,000
Orthopedics: $315,000
Cardiology: $314,000
Anesthesiology: $309,000
Urology: $309,000
Gastroenterology: $303,000
Oncology: $295,000
Dermatology: $283,000
Plastic Surgery: $270,000
Ophthalmology: $270,000
General Surgery: $265,000
Pulmonary Medicine: $242,000
Critical Care: $240,000
Emergency Medicine: $237,000
Pathology: $221,000
Obstetrics/Gynecology: $220,000
Nephrology: $209,000
Neurology: $184,000
Rheumatology: $180,000
HIV/ID: $170,000
Psychiatry: $170,000
Diabetes/Endocrinology: $168,000
Internal Medicine: $165,000
Family Medicine: $158,000
Pediatrics: $156,000





North Central region pays physicians most

Vital Stats


You’ll find regional differences throughout the U.S. when it comes to food, accents…and average salaries for physician jobs.

But you might be surprised to learn that it’s not a region filled with major metropolises that offers the highest mean physician salary.

According to the Medscape Physician Compensation Report: 2012 Results, it’s the North Central region (North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa and Missouri)—the same states as last year’s report—where salaries are highest.

Here’s the breakdown of mean physician compensation by region, according to the report:

  • North Central: $234,000
  • Great Lakes: $228,000
  • South Central: $228,000
  • Southeast: $226,000
  • West: $225,000
  • Northwest: $216,000
  • Mid-Atlantic: $214,000
  • Southwest: $214,000
  • Northeast: $204,000





Who’s the happiest?

Flexibility, predictable schedules and immediate impact influence these satisfied specialties.

By PracticeLink Staff | Vital Stats


Most satisfied physicians by specialtyWhat specialty has the most satisfied physicians? Dermatologists take the cake, with radiologists and oncologists following.

Medscape’s Physician Compensation Report 2011 determined the overall satisfaction level of 22 specialties. Overall satisfaction was ranked by averaging responses to questions about compensation and career and specialty choice.

Dermatologists ranked highest in every question, coming in with an 80 percent overall satisfaction rate.

“Flexibility and predictability are two reasons dermatologists enjoy higher levels of job satisfaction,” says Amy Derick, M.D., owner of Derick Dermatology, LLC. “Dermatologists can sub-specialize or do it all: pathology, surgery, cosmetics, pediatrics, adult patients, etc. Dermatologists can work routine daytime hours (full time or part time) and thus have predictable family time in the evenings not typically interrupted by emergencies.”

Radiologists came in second as a group in overall satisfaction (72 percent).

John A. Patti, M.D., FACR, radiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and chairman of the American College of Radiology Board of Chancellors, has been practicing for 36 years.

He’s not surprised that his specialty ranked so high among physician


“You’re at the center

of everything,” he says. “There’s very little diagnosis that occurs today without the use of imaging. That makes you able to interact with a wide range of physicians and a wide range of patients.” more »


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Who’s making what?

More than three-quarters of physician specialties saw increased compensation in 2009

By PracticeLink Staff | Spring 2011 | Vital Stats


Who's Making What

American Medical Group Association 2010 Medical Group Compensation and Financial Survey 2010 Report Based on 2009 Data Survey at a Glance. *M.D. reported, as opposed to Ph.D. Not all specialties are included in this chart.

WITH THE COST OF EVERYTHING RISING—from food to gas to tuition for schools— here’s some good financial news: Overall, physicians in 76 percent of specialties saw their compensation rise in 2009.

Physicians specializing in pulmonary disease, dermatology and urology saw among the biggest compensation increases; for specialties overall, the average was a 3.4 percent rise.

The highest-paid specialties reported include cardiac and thoracic surgery, orthopedic surgery and subspecialties, cardiology-cath lab, and diagnostic radiology-interventional (in bold at right).

Those compensation figures are detailed in the American Medical Group Association’s 2010 Compensation and Financial Survey (2009 data).

Notes the report: “Many factors influence a change in physician compensation, some of which are market demand for certain specialists and new technologies or new procedures that impact the physician’s overall productivity.” more »


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What women want

Workplace flexibility may be key as women physicians choose their specialties.

By By PracticeLink Staff | Vital Stats | Winter 2011


It’s no secret that physicians these days are looking for jobs that will offer them the ability to balance work and life—such as the ability to raise a family and maintain a professional career.

That quest for balance may be attributable to the increased number of women physicians in the workforce. Or it could be that women in medicine gravitate to specialties that already accommodate flexibility, whether in daily schedules or amount of time in residency, or the ability to take a leave of absence and return without penalty. more »


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