Are you a glass-half-full or a glass-half-empty kind of person? Either way, there’s lots to unpack in the latest data on physician salaries, this time from Medscape.
Medscape’s survey of over 10k US physicians across over 29 medical specialties found that overall physician salaries have grown 18% over the last five years, to $352k, while specialists made an average of $382k.
As with last year, radiologists landed in the top 10 of highest-compensated specialists, a finding that’s in line with previous salary surveys, such as from Doximity. Medscape found that radiologists had an average annual salary of $483k in 2023, compared to $437k in 2022. Radiologists had an average annual salary of $504k in the Doximity data.
Other nuggets from the Medscape survey:
- “Stagnant” reimbursement relative to rising practice costs has cut into physician income.
- The gender gap is narrowing. Male primary care doctors in 2023 earn 19% more than females, compared to about 25% previously.
- Male specialist physicians earn 27% more than females, down from 31% last year and 33% the year before that.
- Only 19% of radiologists are women – one of the lowest rates of female participation among medical specialties.
- 58% of radiologists feel they are fairly paid.
- Radiologists report working an average of 49.6 hours a week.
- 90% of radiologists say they would choose their specialty again, ranking #10.
On the positive side, physician salaries continue to rise, and medicine is making encouraging progress in narrowing the gender gap. Radiologists seem to be well-compensated and relatively happy, but the specialty has more to do to attract women.
Underlying the raw data is a disturbing undercurrent of physician dissatisfaction, with many feeling as though medicine is a golden cage. In the free-response portion of the survey, doctors described themselves as caught between falling reimbursement and rising costs, with overwork also leading to burnout.
The Medscape survey shows that addressing physician burnout must become a priority for the US healthcare system, and it can’t be solved merely by boosting salaries. Increasing the number of residency slots is a good first step (see below).