Physician, RN pay in the US by the numbers

Physician and registered nurse pay varies by specialty, gender and ownership, several recent studies and surveys reported by Becker's found.

Six study findings that explain physician and RN compensation in the US:

1. The five highest-paying physician specialties are plastic surgery ($526,000), orthopedics and orthopedic surgery ($511,000), cardiology ($459,000), urology ($427,000), and otolaryngology ($417,000), according to Medscape's 2021 "Physician Compensation Report."

2. In 2020, the average annual gross income was $116,000 for nurse practitioners, $112,000 for clinical nurse specialists, $211,000 for certified registered nurse anesthetists and $118,000 for nurse midwives, according to a report by Medscape. All of these were an increase from 2019.

3. Physician-owned practices acquired by hospitals from 2014-18 led to those physicians earning on average a 0.8 percent lower income (a $2,987 decrease) than physicians who remained independent, according to a Health Affairs study. But this is dependent on the specialty.

4. Over the course of a 40-year career, female physicians make about $2 million less than male physicians, according to a Health Affairs study. Men earned an average adjusted gross income of $8.3 million over a 40-year career, compared to women, who made $6.3 million, a 24.6 percent difference.

5. Male physician specialists earn 33 percent more than female physicians, the "Medscape Female Physician Compensation Report 2021" discovered. It also found that male primary care providers earn 27 percent more than female PCPs, and male physicians earn more than female physicians in every age range.

6. A deeper voice in male CEOs was associated with 6.6 percent higher pay, compared to male CEOs without a deep voice, according to a study published in the Journal of Management Studies.

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