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Physician salary 2019: Salaries rise again, but so does paperwork

Physician salaries 2019

The latest report on physician salaries shows doctors’ earnings have continued to grow in the past year. For the report, Medscape surveyed approximately 20,000 physicians from 30 different specialties. The overall average salary rose from $299,999 in 2018 to $313,000 this year. According to Medscape, from 2015 to 2019, primary care physician (PCP) salaries increased 20 percent from $195,000 to $284,000, and specialist salaries increased 21.5 percent from $284,000 to $341,000.

chart - average annual physician compensation

Image credit Medscape.com

This year orthopedics took the top position over plastic surgery. The top salaries this year are:

  • Orthopedics ($482,000)
  • Plastic surgery ($471,000)
  • Otolaryngology ($461,000)
  • Cardiology ($430,000)
  • Dermatology ($419,000)

Family medicine, pediatrics, and public health remained at the bottom of the list.

The pay gap between male physicians and female physicians widened, increasing from 18 percent in 2018 to 25 percent this year. However, the salary gap between male and female specialists dropped 3 percent, falling from 36 percent last year to 33 percent this year. The report noted that female physicians tend to select to work in lower-paying specialties such as OB/GYN, pediatrics, diabetes, and endocrinology. However, it also stated that the selection of the lower-salary specialties did not explain why female physicians received less than their male counterparts.

Hours of practice and compensation

Medscape indicated that male physicians spend 9 percent more time seeing patients than female physicians.

As in past years, self-employed physicians show higher earnings than employed physicians. Overhead plays a significant role in profitability for the self-employed. Moreover, the amount of overhead in a given practice varies according to specialty. PCP practices, for example, usually endure larger overheads due to the broad range of services provided compared to a specialist, while independent contractors like locum tenens physicians typically have low overhead costs.

chart - employed v. self-employed physician compensation

Image credit Medscape.com

This year, 74 percent of all physicians surveyed report more time (10 or more hours per week) spent on paperwork than in the past, with a third of these physicians reporting they spend more than 20 hours per week on paperwork. This is an enormous jump compared to past years; in 2012 physicians claimed only 1-4 hours per week of paperwork. This increase in administrative burden has make working locum tenens a more attractive alternative for many doctors, by allowing them to spend more time with patients and less on the business end of healthcare.

While salary is important, feeling fairly compensated also correlates with the satisfaction of a job well done. Public health and preventative medicine, which is at the bottom of the salary bracket, report the highest satisfaction for fair compensation. Of the top five salaries, dermatology reports the highest satisfaction, with orthopedics and plastic surgery in the middle of the field. Most physicians feel satisfied with their performance. However, rules and regulations create the biggest frustrations for physicians. Ultimately, the gratitude and relationships built with patients is the greatest reward. The majority of physicians surveyed would select medicine again, and their given specialty, as a career choice.

Top states for salaries

Oklahoma was first on the top-ten list with an average salary of $337,000 and Indiana placed tenth with an average salary of $332,000. Tennessee and Georgia are new to the list of the top-earning states.

chart - top states for physician salaries

Image credit Medscape.com

For physicians interested in working locum tenens, knowing the top states for salaries is important to make informed decisions regarding assignment locations. Although pay varies from state to state, and within each specialty, locum tenens usually earn more than full-time, on-staff physicians. Earnings can be maximized in states with higher pay, especially because most locum tenens agencies cover the cost of housing and travel as part of the total compensation. The leading states with the highest physician salaries are spread across the United States (the only region of the U.S. not in the top-10 list is the Northwest).

SEE ALSO: Top five states for locum tenens physicians.

To learn more about locum tenens, give us a call at 954.343.3050 or view today’s job openings.

About the author

Heather Linderfelt

Heather Linderfelt

Heather Linderfelt is a geologist, chef, and freelance editor/writer. She specializes in a variety of topics, including healthcare, science, technology, business, and the food industry.

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