Physicians see steady compensation growth in 2023: Medscape

In 2023, physicians saw a steady increase in total compensation. Still, in a year when inflation remained high and federal reimbursement cuts kicked in, 61% of physicians said they believe medicine is an underpaid profession, according to Medscape's "2024 Physician Compensation Report." 

Medscape surveyed 7,000 practicing physicians in the U.S. for the annual report. Physicians across 29 specialties participated in the online survey between Oct. 2 and Jan. 16. 

Six key findings: 

  • Physicians saw total annual compensation grow about 3% on average last year, from $352,000 to $363,000. Primary care physicians saw a roughly 4% increase on average, while specialists saw a 3% rise in total compensation. Specialized physicians earned $394,000 on average in 2023, more than $100,000 higher than primary care physicians.

  • The three top-paid specialties in 2023 were orthopedics ($558,000), plastic surgery ($536,000) and cardiology ($525,000). Physicians specializing in infectious disease ($261,000), pediatrics ($260,000) and diabetes and endocrinology ($256,000) reported the lowest compensation. 

  • When asked what they thought about physician pay in the U.S., the majority (61%) said they believed most physicians are underpaid. Five percent said they are overpaid. When asked about their own work demands, however, responses were more even. About 49% said they felt their compensation matches the demands of the job, while 51% said they are not compensated fairly. 

  • On average, male physicians earned 29% more than their female counterparts. 

  • Black physicians saw compensation grow roughly 7% last year — twice as fast as any other racial and ethnic group. However, they are still the lowest-compensated group, earning $37,000 less on average than white physicians. 

  • When looking at pay by region, physicians working in North Central states such as Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota reported the highest earnings — $404,000 on average. 

View the full report here

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