Physician Resources

General surgery salary report 2022: Surgeon wages up 8%

Illustration - General surgery salary report 2022

The average general surgeon salary has increased 8% since last year, according to the 2022 Medscape General Surgeon Compensation Report. Here’s how general surgeon pay compares to other physicians of other specialties, trends in general surgeon incentive bonuses, and how many general surgeons feel fairly compensated.

Average general surgeon salary in 2021

General surgeons earned an average salary of $402,000 in 2021, an 8% increase compared to 2020’s $373,000. The three highest-paid physician specialties are plastic surgery ($576,000), orthopedics ($557,000), and cardiology ($490,000). The three lowest-paid physician specialties are family medicine ($255,000), pediatrics ($244,000), and public health and preventive medicine ($243,000).

Chart - How much general surgeons earned in 2021

Average general surgeon incentive bonus in 2021

The average general surgeon incentive bonus was $46,000 in 2021, slightly less than the $47,000 average bonus surgeons reported for 2020. Compared to other specialties, this incentive bonus falls on the lower end of the scale, with orthopedists earning the highest bonuses ($126,000 on average) and pediatricians earning the lowest ($28,000 on average).

Chart - The average general surgeon incentive bonus

About 57% of physicians overall have annual incentive bonuses.

How many general surgeons work extra to supplement their income

Around 33% of general surgeons reported taking on extra work to supplement their income, compared to 36% of overall physicians who do so. Of this extra work, 20% said they take on other medical-related work and 7% moonlight within the medical field, which can include locum tenens.

Chart - How many general surgeons work to supplement their income

How many general surgeons feel fairly compensated

A little more than half (52%) of general surgeons said they feel they are paid fairly for their work. However, this satisfaction level is on the lower end compared to other specialties. Those in public health and preventive medicine have the highest pay satisfaction rate (72%), followed by oncology (67%) and psychiatry (65%). The specialties with the lowest satisfaction rate include pediatrics (47%), diabetes and endocrinology (46%), and nephrology (42%).

Chart - How many general surgeons feel fairly compensated

General surgeons’ compensation satisfaction is trending downward with 52% saying they were satisfied with their pay in 2021, compared to just to 60% in 2020.

Career satisfaction is higher though. Seventy-six percent of general surgeons said they would choose medicine again, about the same as in 2020 (77%).

Most general surgeons say they like their work, with 83% of those surveyed saying they would choose the same specialty again. The specialty with the highest satisfaction rate is dermatology (99%), followed by orthopedics (97%) and plastic surgery (96%). Physicians least likely to choose the same specialty again include nephrology (73%), family medicine (68%), and internal medicine (63%).

Chart - How many general surgeons would choose the same specialty

Time spent on paperwork and administration

The average time spent on paperwork and administration for physicians overall was 15.5 hours per week, so general surgeons fall in the middle with about 14.7 hours per week. Those who work in infectious diseases spent the most time on paperwork and administration each week (19.8 hours), while anesthesiologists spent the least time (10 hours).

Chart - Time general surgeons spend on paperwork and administration

What is most rewarding for general surgeons

Of the general surgeons surveyed, 29% said the most rewarding part of their jobs was the gratitude and relationships with patients, while 26% said they liked being good at what they do and finding answers and diagnoses. Patient relationships have increased slightly as a rewarding part of the job, up from 26% in 2020.

Chart - What is the most rewarding part of a general surgeon's job

General surgeons said the most challenging part of their job was having so many rules and regulations, followed by trouble dealing with Medicare or other healthcare insurers.

Although general surgeons’ satisfaction with compensation dipped in the last year, the average general surgeon salary grew in 2021, and more than 80% of those surveyed are happy with their specialty.

General surgeons are also in high demand as locum tenens surgeons. If you’re interested in supplementing your income or sharpening your clinical skills in a new practice environment, these temporary positions may be a great fit.

Give us a call at 954.343.3050 to learn more or view today’s locum tenens general surgery job opportunities.

About the author

Lindsay Wilcox

Lindsay Wilcox is a communication professional with experience writing for the healthcare and entertainment industries as well as local government. When she's not circling typos, she's enjoying fish tacos and hanging out with her family.