Physicians and non-physicians alike are curious about doctors’ salaries. Information on physician salaries is scattered, with the MGMA survey being the most widely-cited compensation survey. However, it can be difficult to get your hands on the MGMA numbers. There is anecdotal information on physician forums such as Student Doctor Network, but those numbers are hardly scientific.
Doximity’s First Annual Physician Compensation Report
Doximity is the largest physician-specific social network. According to their website, over 70% of U.S. physicians have an account with Doximity. The company has been asking physicians since 2014 to share their salaries. Doximity displays the results on a salary map, where you can look up the average salaries in your specialty by county.
You cannot look at the salary map unless you input your own salary information into the database. This entices more physicians to input their salary information, improving the quality of the database.
As a result, they have been able to compile 36,000 physician responses to their salary survey. In April 2017, they published their First Annual Physician Compensation Report, summarizing the results of their salary database.
I encourage my physician readers to read the report. You do need to be a Doximity member to read the report (you don’t have to contribute your own salary for access) For my non-physician readers, here is the press release of the report from Doximity.
Takeaways From The Report
Doctors are paid well
Every specialty in the survey had an average salary of greater than $200,000. According to this calculator, the average doctor in the lowest paying specialty would still be in the 98% percentile of American workers with respect to salary.
I get it, the average American worker doesn’t have $250,000 or more in student loans. The average American worker doesn’t spend four years in college and four years in medical school. And certainly, the average American worker doesn’t get beaten to a pulp for 3-7 years during residency or fellowship. But the money at the end of the tunnel is still pretty good, no matter which specialty you choose.
Surgical specialties dominate the rankings of the highest-paid specialties
Not surprisingly, surgical specialties are the highest-paid fields, taking the top 4 spots in the rankings. Many of the other specialties in the top 10 are procedure-heavy, including cardiology, dermatology, and gastroenterology. While the U.S. healthcare system is working its way towards quality-based compensation rather than quantity-based compensation, for now, procedure-based specialties still pay.
It does not pay to be a pediatric subspecialist
On the other end of the spectrum, pediatric subspecialists have the lowest average incomes. The five lowest-paying specialties were pediatric subspecialties. Each of them paid less on average than general pediatrics.
Mind the (gender pay) gap
Doximity’s salary database confirms a well-known phenomenon in other professions: male workers make more on average than female workers. In general, some of the gender pay gap can be attributed to various factors, including:
- Female physicians are on average younger than male physicians, given the steady increase in female medical student enrollment over the past 40 years
- Female physicians are more likely to work part-time
- Female physicians are less likely to specialize in the highest-paid procedural specialties (i.e. surgery) and more likely to specialize in the lowest-paid specialties (pediatrics)
However, according to Doximity’s methodology, they controlled for each of these confounding factors. So why such a large gender pay gap? I’m not sure. Neither does Doximity, who states that it is “beyond our scope to speculate on causation of this effect.”
It pays to work in rural settings
From Doximity’s press release:
Interestingly, rural and lower cost cities tended to have higher physician compensation than higher cost areas, such as New York, San Francisco and Chicago.
While this may be surprising to Doximity, I’m sure this is no surprise to most readers of this or other physician finance blogs. The concept of geographic arbitrage is well-known, where you can get higher pay by working in lower cost-of-living areas. In New York or San Francisco on the other hand, being a doctor may make you feel like you are just scraping by.
The lowest paying metro areas have a high concentration of academic hospitals
Doximity ranked the highest and lowest paying metropolitan areas. The two lowest metropolitan areas were Durham, NC and Ann Arbor, MI. This makes sense, since these two metro areas are dominated by major academic hospitals (Duke/UNC and University of Michigan, respectively). Do a quick search of the salary database of the University of North Carolina and the University of Michigan and Doximity’s results will make sense.
Doximity’s Physician Compensation Report is a great summary of physician compensation in the United States. Their numbers roughly correlate with those published in other salary surveys. It mostly confirms most of what we know about physician compensation: surgical and procedural specialties pay more than primary care and pediatric subspecialties, academics pays less than private practice, rural practices pay more than urban practices, and a gender pay gap exists in medicine.
What do you think? Did any of the numbers in Doximity’s salary survey surprise you? What did you take away from their results?