How Much Do Doctors Earn?

Medscape Physician Compensation Report: 2011

The Specialist/Primary Care Split Continues -- and Not Just in Compensation

Wayne Guglielmo, MA


April 28, 2011

In This Article


The demand for primary care doctors continues to grow, but specialists still earn the most money, according to Medscape's Physician Compensation Report: 2011. The report is based on a survey that garnered responses from over 15,000 US physicians representing 22 specialties.

The highest earning medical specialties are orthopedic surgeons and radiologists (median compensation: $350,000), followed by anesthesiologists and cardiologists ($325,000). Dermatologists report that they are happiest with their specialty (93%).

If they had to do it all over again, primary care doctors were least likely to choose the same specialty (43%), followed by pulmonologists (52%) and obstetricians/gynecologists (53%). While pediatricians were lowest on the income rung, 61% would choose the same specialty again.

These are just a few of the not-to-be-missed findings of Medscape's 2011 Physician Compensation Report, which was fielded during February 2011 and based on 2010 data.

Other key findings include:

  • Doctors in private practice spend more time seeing patients than do their employed colleagues;

  • Sex still makes a difference -- across the specialties surveyed, women doctors reported a 2010 median income of $160,000 compared with men's $225,000;

  • Income for most doctors has remained flat from 2009 to 2010, although a percentage of doctors saw increases; and

  • More than one fourth of primary care physicians (29%) spend between 13 and 16 minutes with each of their patients.


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