Doctors do incredible work and get paid more than most. However, given the life-saving nature of medicine and the amount of student debt most physicians have, their income pales in comparison to many other well-known professionals.
“It's not your salary that makes you rich, it's your spending habits.”
—Charles A. Jaffe
The matter of compensation for America’s physician is a complicated one. “Always remember, medicine is a business,” my physician-dad use to tell me. And if it is, as dad says, then doctors are entitled to be well paid for the remarkable work they do every day. But really they’re not. About half think they’re underpaid.
However, a new report from The Medicus Firm shows that most physician specialty salaries are growing. Here are their numbers for doctor’s annual pay in 2014:
Orthopedic surgery, $499,000; Cardiology, $443,000; Gastroenterology, $424,000; Urology, $416,000; Radiology, $403,000; Oncology, $402,000; Anesthesiology, $371,000; General surgery, $349,000; Obstetrics/Gynecology, $285,000; Emergency medicine, $275,000; Neurology, $270,000; Hospitalist, $249,000; Internal medicine, $239,000; Psychiatry, $225,000; Family medicine, $208,000; and Pediatrics, $199,000.
Just one specialty experienced a decline (general surgery, down 1.1%). The specialties that grew the most were neurology (6.7%), emergency medicine (6.6%), cardiology (5.2%) and pediatrics (4.2%). Primary care doctors were up an average of about 3.5% last year.
The pay for most physicians is very good, no question, but if you take into account the full measure of what they do (constantly saving and improving life) then their payday should really be unmatched. Can’t say that it is—especially when compared to the other list. But life is unfair (that’s another doctor-dadism).
The lowest paid doctor on the Medicus list is still in the $200,000 neighborhood. But it takes a whole lot to get there, MDs say. Most doctors begin their careers with a mountain of education debt and typically start practice later due to intense medical training time.
Now, here are the annual salaries and earnings of people in 24 prominent jobs. These might come as a surprise to physicians (and might even make them grind their teeth):
$174,000 — Member of the United States Congress (Senators and Representatives).
$193,400 — Majority Leader of the US Senate (Mitch McConnell, R-KY).
$199,700 — Untied States presidential cabinet secretaries (State, Defense, Labor, etc.).
$205,180 — New York City police commissioner (Bill Bratton).
$223,500 — Speaker of the US House of Representatives (John Boehner, R-OH).
$230,700 — Vice President of the United States (Joe Biden).
$246,800 — United States Supreme Court Associate Justice.
$258,100 — United States Supreme Court Chief Justice (John Roberts).
$400,000 — President of the United States (Barack Obama).
$403,000 — Prime Minister of Australia (Tony Abbott).
$9 million — Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, Inc.
$10 million — Jon Hamm, lead actor in Mad Men TV series
$14 million — J.K. Rowling, best-selling British author.
$16 million — Jon Stewart, cable TV host.
$24 million — Bill O’Reilly, Fox TV host and author.
$28 million — Prince Charles of Wales in UK.
$34 million — Jennifer Lawrence, actress.
$47 million — Judith Sheindlin, TV’s Judge Judy.
$60 million — Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain.
$65 million — Lebron James, NBA basketball player.
$75 million — Bruce Spingsteen, musician.
$77 million — Dr. Phil McGraw, TV host.
$90 million — James Patterson, best-selling American author.
$105 million — Floyd Mayweather, champion pro boxer.
Sources: Gannett, Parade