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What Are Physicians Making in 2018?

Mitch Hatten

According to the Medscape Physician Compensation Report, overall physician compensation is up in 2018. The average salary for physicians in 2018, regardless of specialty, was $299,000. Specialists are earning an average of $329,000 and primary care physicians are earning an average of $223,000 this year.

Compare these numbers to 2017, where specialists averaged $316,000 per year and primary care physicians earned $217,000 per year. That’s just over a 4% increase for specialists overall and almost a 3% increase for primary care physicians.

This is reflective of an upward trend in physician compensation over the course of the past seven years. In 2011, overall physician compensation hovered just above $200,000.

Broken Down by Specialty

The highest paid specialties remain similar to the past several years. They include:

  • Plastic Surgery: $501,000 per year
  • Orthopedics: $497,000 per year
  • Cardiology: $423,000 per year
  • Gastroenterology: $408,000 per year
  • Radiology: $401,000 per year
  • Public Health & Preventative Medicine: $199,000 per year
  • Pediatrics: $212,000 per year
  • Diabetes & Endocrinology: $212,000 per year
  • Family Medicine: $219,000 per year
  • Internal Medicine: $230,000 per year

The lowest paid specialties include:

  • Public Health & Preventative Medicine: $199,000 per year
  • Pediatrics: $212,000 per year
  • Diabetes & Endocrinology: $212,000 per year
  • Family Medicine: $219,000 per year
  • Internal Medicine: $230,000 per year

Which Way Are Specialties Trending?

The specialties seeing the largest jump in compensation year-to-year are Psychiatry at +16%, Plastic Surgery at +14%, and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at +13%.

The report finds that the increased need for psychiatrists has been bolstered by rise in age-related mental illnesses, as well as a rise in opioid-related illnesses.

Specialties that saw the greatest decreases included General Surgery at -9%, Urology at -7%, Otolaryngology at -4%, and Pathology and Neurology at -2%.

U.S. vs. Foreign-Trained Physicians

Foreign-Trained physicians account for just over 25% of all physicians practicing in the U.S. These are physicians who have completed their medical education in another country, but have completed residency training in the U.S. According to the study, which found the average annual compensation for physicians from eight different countries, physicians educated in Canada but practicing in the U.S. actually make more on average than U.S. trained physicians.

The entire breakdown is as follows:

  1. Canada: $324,000
  2. U.S.: $303,000
  3. Mexico: $296,000
  4. India: $292,000
  5. Pakistan: $278,000
  6. Grenada: $274,000
  7. Caribbean: $273,000
  8. Philippines: $261,000
  9. Dominica: $243,000

Foreign-trained physicians are more likely than U.S. trained physicians to practice in the areas that experience the most severe shortages of physicians and other healthcare services. They also skew towards primary care fields. These two factors could partially explain the salaries of foreign-trained physicians being lower on average than US trained physicians. 

Regions and States

Physicians in the “North Central” region of the Medscape report make the most money in 2018 on average, coming in at $319,000 annually. This region includes North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri.

The region with the lowest physician pay for 2018 is the “Northeast,” at $275,000 on average. These states include North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

The report also ranked individual states based on highest and lowest physician earnings. The top five were:

  • Indiana: $334,000
  • Oklahoma: $330,000
  • Connecticut: $329,000
  • Wisconsin: $327,000
  • Nevada: $323,000
  • Maryland: $256,000
  • New Mexico: $256,000
  • Hawaii: $268,000
  • Massachusetts: $275,000
  • Michigan: $277,000

And the bottom five:

  • Maryland: $256,000
  • New Mexico: $256,000
  • Hawaii: $268,000
  • Massachusetts: $275,000
  • Michigan: $277,000

Do Physicians Feel They’re Paid Fairly?

This section of the report may be one of the most interesting. It breaks down what percentage of physicians feel they are compensated fairly by according to their specialty. Some of the highlights include 74% of Emergency Medicine physicians feeling they are being compensated fairly and only 46% of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation physicians feeling the same. You can check out the rest of the report here.

Are You Being Paid Fairly?

According to the data, a large portion of physicians in each specialty feel they are not being compensated fairly for their work. In 26 of the 29 specialties surveyed, anywhere from 31% to 54% of physicians feel unfairly compensated.

This can be attributed to many factors, but the biggest is that they are not actually being compensated fairly in most cases. Physicians need to have a seat at the table when it comes to compensation negotiations and decisions on important contract terms. Too often, we see our clients being paid less than they deserve or missing out on key benefits that could make their life better both at work and at home.

Resolve’s physician job search and contract review teams are experts in finding physicians the right job, at the right price. Get in touch with us today to see why we are ranked #1 by our physician clients.