On the low end of financial compensation compared with other medical specialties, internists glean the majority of their job satisfaction from patient gratitude and relationships, according to Medscape’s 2015 Internist Compensation Report. We offer some highlights of this report, which looks at compensation, job satisfaction, and more.
Salary by Specialty
It’s likely unsurprising that internal medicine doctors fall toward the bottom of the compensation list. This year they tied with endocrinologists for third from last, with an average annual income of $196,000, narrowly surpassing family physicians ($195,000) and pediatricians ($189,000).
Orthopedists topped the list ($421,000), followed by cardiologists ($376,000) and gastroenterologists ($370,000).
The good news is that salaries are up in all but two specialties (rheumatology and urology), with internal medicine doctors citing a 4 percent increase over last year. The highest increases were seen by infectious disease physicians (22 percent) and pulmonologists (15 percent).
Thoughts on Compensation
When it comes to being satisfied with earnings, fewer than half (45 percent) of the internal medicine doctors surveyed claim to feel fairly compensated. However, this falls right in the middle of the other specialties, with ophthalmologists on the low end (40 percent) and dermatologists topping the list (61 percent).
And even though employed internists make less ($191,000) than their self-employed counterparts ($208,000), those who are employed are more likely to feel content with their compensation. About half (49 percent) of employed internists believe they receive a fair income, while only 33 percent of self-employed internal medicine physicians say the same.
More than the Money
Though the numbers varied by gender, both male (34 percent) and female (40 percent) internists said they feel most rewarded by patient gratitude and patient relationships. Similar numbers of men (29 percent) and women (28 percent) also felt satisfied about being very good at their jobs and finding diagnoses. Making good money ranked low for both genders (10 percent for men and 7 percent for women).
When asked if they had it all to do over again, one-quarter of internal medicine physicians felt confident they would take the same path, and 71 percent said they would still choose medicine as a career, though they might try a different specialty.
Enhancing Overall Satisfaction
To determine the level of overall job satisfaction, Medscape averaged the percentage of internists who felt fairly compensated, the percentage of those who would choose medicine again, and the percentage of those who would choose to remain in their specialty. Internists ranked lowest of the all the physicians, at 47 percent.
Increased job satisfaction may be achieved through locum tenens opportunities, which are available nationwide. By exploring new parts of the country, trying out different practice settings, and earning extra income, dissatisfied physicians often find themselves feeling revitalized in both their careers and their personal lives.