The highest-paid doctors


On average, physicians reported an average annual full-time compensation package of $294,000. Overall, however, specialists’ compensation—which averaged $316,000—was 46 percent higher than their peers working in primary care, whose compensation averaged $217,000.

According to MedScape, the top five specialties with the highest average compensation packages in 2017 were:

  • Orthopedics, at $489,000;
  • Plastic surgery, at $440,00;
  • Cardiology, at $410,000;
  • Urology, at $400,000; and
  • Otolaryngology, at $398,000.

Meanwhile, the five specialties with the lowest compensation packages were:

  • Infectious disease, at $228,000;
  • Internal Medicine, at $225,000;
  • Endocrinology, at $220,000;
  • Family Medicine, at $209,000; and
  • Pediatrics, at $202,000.

Total compensation for a number of specialties increased compared with 2016. The five specialties with the highest percentage increase were:

  • Plastic surgery, up 24 percent;
  • Allergy and immunology, up 16 percent;
  • Otolaryngology, up 13 percent;
  • Ophthalmology, up 12 percent; and
  • Pulmonary medicine, up 11 percent.

Geographic and other trends

Overall, the regions with the highest average compensation packages were:

  • North Central, at $371,000; and
  • Great Lakes, at $303,000.

The lowest regions with the lowest average compensation packages were:

  • West, at $298,000; and
  • Mid-Atlantic, at $282,000.

The survey also revealed other compensation differences. For instance, Canadian-trained physicians earned more on average ($328,000) than U.S.-trained doctors ($301,000). Employed physicians also tended to earn less on average ($269,000) than self-employed physicians ($343,000).

Disparities in gender, race

Medscape also surveyed respondents about their gender and—for the first time—about their race and ethnicity.

According to the survey, female physicians were compensated 35 percent less, on average, than their male peers. Some of the pay gap may be attributable to the fact that more women say they work part-time (22 percent) than men (11 percent), the survey found. And there are some signs that the pay gap will narrow with time: For instance, among doctors under the age of 34, the gap is 18 percent.

The survey also spotted disparities in compensation by race and ethnicity, with physicians who identify as:

  • White/Caucasian reporting average annual compensation of $303,000;
  • Asian reporting average annual compensation of $283,000;
  • Hispanic/Latino reporting average annual compensation of $271,000
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