Physician Compensation Trended Downward in 2011

Although top-earning physician specialties had similar compensation figures from 2010 to 2011, physician compensation declined overall, according to Medscape's 2012 Physician Compensation Report, which was released yesterday.

Radiologists ($315,000), cardiologists ($314,000), anesthesiologists ($309,000), urologists ($309,000) and gastroenterologists ($309,000) were the highest-paid specialties, as each of those groups averaged more than $300,000 in total compensation. For the survey, compensation included salary, bonuses and profit-sharing contributions but excluded non-patient-related activities.

Pediatricians ($156,000), family physicians ($158,000) and internal medicine physicians ($165,000) recorded the lowest compensation totals on average.

Ophthalmologists saw the biggest increase in pay, as their average compensation rose 9 percent. Although pediatricians were the lowest-compensation specialty in the survey, they still saw a 5 percent increase in pay year-over-year from 2010 to 2011.

General surgeons saw the biggest drop-off in pay, as their compensation fell by 12 percent on average. Orthopedic surgeons were close behind, as their pay dropped by an average of 10 percent.

Male physicians still earn more than female physicians across all specialties, although the survey found the income gap was closing. Across all specialties, male physicians had an average compensation of $242,000, and female physicians made $173,000. In primary care, men made $174,000 on average compared with $141,000 for women.

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