20 physician specialties ranked by annual compensation

Before the coronavirus pandemic, primary care physicians earned an average of $243,000 and specialists earned an average of $346,000 — up 2.5 and 1.5 percent, respectively, from 2019. 

In its Physician Compensation Report 2020, Medscape collected responses from more than 17,000 physicians across more than 30 specialties. 

Data was collected from Oct. 4, 2019, through Feb. 10, 2020, before the COVID-19 crisis began and healthcare organizations suspended elective surgeries. In a supplementary article to its survey, Medscape notes that experts expect benchmarks for physicians to be lowered in light of lower patient volume from COVID-19 and bonuses to be constricted.

Below is a list of annual physician compensation by specialty with the percent changes from the 2019 edition of the Medscape report. This report reflects only full-time salaries. Note: The list includes a tie at No. 17.

1. Orthopedics: $511,000 (5.8 percent increase) 

2. Plastic surgery: $479,000 (1.7 percent increase)

3. Otolaryngology: $455,000 (1.3 percent decrease)

4. Cardiology: $438,000 (1.9 percent increase) 

5. Radiology: $427,000 (1.9 percent increase) 

6. Gastroenterology: $419,000 (0.5 percent increase) 

7. Urology: $417,000 (2.2 percent increase) 

8. Dermatology: $411,000 (1.9 percent decrease) 

9. Anesthesiology: $398,000 (1.5 percent increase) 

10. Ophthalmology: $378,000 (3.3 percent increase) 

11. Oncology: $377,000 (5 percent increase) 

12. Surgery, general: $364,000 (0.5 increase) 

13. Emergency medicine: $357,000 (1.1 percent increase) 

14. Critical care: $355,000 (1.7 percent increase) 

15. Pulmonary medicine: $342,000 (3.3 percent increase) 

16. Pathology: $318,000 (3.2 percent increase) 

17. Physical medicine and rehabilitation: $308,000 (0.65 percent increase)

17. OB/Gyn: $308,000 (1.65 percent increase) 

19. Nephrology: $306,000 (0.33 percent increase) 

20. Allergy and immunology: $301,000 (9.5 percent increase) 

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