NEW YORK -- WebMD Health Corp. today released the findings of a nationwide survey from Medscape, the company's medical website for health care professionals. The new study reveals wide gaps in compensation between medical specialties and between male and female physicians.
"Medscape's first annual physician compensation survey highlights the significant compensation gap between specialties, with pediatrics and adult primary care on the lowest rung of the income ladder," said Dr. Steven Zatz, Executive Vice President, WebMD Professional Services. "Responses from WebMD's physician community also highlight that a gender gap still exists in medicine. However, regardless of the disparities in compensation, the results also highlight that nearly 70% of physicians surveyed said they would choose medicine as a career if they had it to do over again."
Specialists Earn Two Times More than Primary Care Physicians
While the demand for primary care doctors continues to grow, specialists still earn the most money. Primary care physicians earn less than other specialties with average annual incomes of $159,000. The disparity is most evident when primary care compensation is compared to the top three earning specialties: orthopedic surgeons and radiologists both at $350,000 and anesthesiologists at $325,000.
Male Physicians Outearn Female Physicians
Among the 15,000 physicians surveyed, men earned more than women across all specialties. For all physicians, females earned a median of $160,000 while males earned a median of $225,000. The same held true among primary care doctors, where female physicians earned $140,000 compared to their male counterparts who earned $170,000. The wage gap is likely a result of a variety of factors, but the survey revealed that the number of hours worked and the chosen specialty contributed to the lower pay. Female physicians spend fewer hours per week seeing patients than male physicians; by a two to one margin, women are more likely to spend less than 30 hours a week seeing patients. In addition, fewer women are represented in higher-earning specialties.
Practice Size Matters
Physicians working in larger practices with 100 or more physicians earned a median of $167,000, when compared to solo physicians who earned the least, at a median income of $144,000.
Physician Hours at Work
Physicians not only spend time with their patients, but also spend a good part of their work week on other professional activities. Our survey finds that most doctors devote hours to paperwork, clinical reading, administrative and supervisory work, and other professional activities each week. Looking at primary care physicians in private practice, 31% work from 10 to 14 hours per week on non-patient activities, while 22% of employed doctors put in that much time on non-patient work.