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What they're paying

Article

That depends on where you work and what kind of practice you join. Check out the latest data on physician salaries.

 

Your Career Guide
Surveying the landscape

What they're paying

Jump to:
Choose article section...1999 compensation by specialty Specialists lose most under capitation Go west, young doctor? Okay—but there's more gold down south Which groups are most generous Starting salaries vary widelyProductivity compensation methods yield better pay Tip:

That depends on where you work and what kind of practice you join. Check out the latest data on physician salaries.

By David Azevedo
Professional Editor

If you're fresh out of residency or thinking of changing jobs, how much should you expect to be paid in your new position? The answer depends on any number of variables: where you practice, the size of the practice, how your new group divides income, how much managed care has penetrated the practice.

Perhaps no factor is more important than the type of community you select. In the past few years, rural areas have been where the money is, because that's where doctors have been scarce. For example, The Health Care Group of Plymouth Meeting, PA, which does an annual starting-salary survey, found that an FP who started out in rural Wisconsin drew a guaranteed $125,000 a year for two years, plus a $20,000 signing bonus and a $5,000 bonus after one year's work. The area's relatively low cost of living makes those numbers even more impressive—and appealing.

In contrast, an FP in suburban New York accepted a salary of $75,000, plus a 20 percent share of the practice's net after expenses. In urban Pennsylvania, an FP started with only a $65,000 salary that could rise as high as $130,000, depending on productivity.

Generally speaking, your best bet for a high-paying position would be to join a midsized group in an area of the South with low managed care penetration. Not everyone can aim at such a narrow target, of course, so consult the following tables to see how your specialty fares under a variety of circumstances.

For more resources on physician income, see "Where to go for help: your career resource guide".

 

1999 compensation by specialty

We present data from three different surveys because they target distinctly different universes. The Medical Economics Continuing Survey sample includes MDs and DOs in office-based private practice of any size, including solo offices and partnerships. The American Medical Group Association exclusively surveys MDs in large multispecialty groups. The Medical Group Management Association gathers information from its member organizations, which represent groups of all sizes.

Unless otherwise stated, dollar figures for this and other tables are median total compensation for 1999.

 
Medical Economics
AMGA
MGMA
Cardiologists (invasive)
$274,170
—
$299,994
Cardiologists (noninvasive)
207,780
—
278,712
FPs
128,490
$141,560
141,493
Gastroenterologists
234,740
222,000
264,500
General surgeons
184,950
243,362
236,572
Internists
127,090
142,881
145,375
Ob/gyns
191,270
223,584
219,022
Orthopedic surgeons
269,570
293,525
313,541
Pediatricians
133,750
139,307
142,770

1For incorporated physicians, figures include total compensation from practice (salary, bonuses, and retirement set-asides) before income taxes. For unincorporated doctors, compensation is individual practice income minus tax-deductible professional expenses, before income taxes. 2Annual compensation is based on current salary rate plus deferred compensation, tax-deferred annuities, and any anticipated cash distribution during the next 12 months based on prior year performance, but excluding any payments under the normal retirement, pension, or profit-sharing plans. 3Compensation includes salary, bonuses, incentive payments, research stipends, honoraria, distribution of profits, and all voluntary salary reductions, such as 401(k) contributions. 4Fields not analyzed separately. 5Includes only FPs without OB.

 

Specialists lose most under capitation

 
Percent of revenue from capitation
 
0%
10% or less
11-50%
51% or more
Cardiologists (invasive)
$340,276
$321,475
—*
$244,269
Cardiologists (noninvasive)
300,000
284,492
$256,205
—*
FPs (without OB)
148,990
140,295
137,411
139,152
Gastroenterologists
306,978
264,500
232,243
199,288
General surgeons
262,893
261,553
221,896
204,076
Internists
158,366
145,574
138,082
145,295
Ob/gyns
240,277
230,000
214,150
208,071
Orthopedic surgeons
339,017
301,945
292,499
265,413
Pediatricians
146,875
146,030
140,429
137,980

 

Go west, young doctor? Okay—but there's more gold down south

 
East
Midwest
South
West
Cardiologists (invasive)
$312,530
$328,025
$343,063
$245,709
Cardiologists (noninvasive)
288,745
278,818
350,201
220,197
FPs (without OB)
137,714
140,435
155,103
135,126
Gastroenterologists
269,843
285,864
288,854
212,478
General surgeons
214,254
250,037
281,799
214,043
Internists
148,417
143,490
154,926
142,386
Ob/gyns
203,975
235,194
267,549
198,750
Orthopedic surgeons
312,215
336,642
365,625
272,542
Pediatricians
144,785
144,651
145,836
135,946

 

Which groups are most generous

 
Number of FTE doctors
 
10 or fewer
11-25
26-50
51-75
76-150
151 or more
FPs (without OB)
$132,500
$138,516
$141,800
$145,190
$145,059
$141,849
Gastroenterologists
—*
—*
276,500
316,597
252,089
203,917
General surgeons
—*
206,046
224,415
250,858
255,954
220,475
Internists
144,239
134,240
149,503
151,346
143,048
145,762
Ob/gyns
—*
207,229
234,405
234,869
224,670
211,312
Orthopedic surgeons
—*
—*
258,101
312,874
322,567
273,554
Pediatricians
—*
128,008
140,552
146,584
145,597
138,263

 

Starting salaries vary widely

 
Low
Average
High
Cardiologists (all)
$165,000
$238,000
$350,000
FPs
105,000
135,000
200,000
Gastroenterologists
155,000
204,000
250,000
General surgeons
145,000
189,000
300,000
Internists
100,000
139,000
170,000
Ob/gyns
150,000
225,000
300,000
Orthopedic surgeons
170,000
257,000
300,000
Pediatricians
100,000
130,000
160,000

 

Productivity compensation methods yield better pay

 
100% productivity
50-99% productivity
51-99% guaranteed salary
100% straight salary
Cardiologists (invasive)
$417,600
$324,632
$292,119
—*
Cardiologists (noninvasive)
288,263
301,397
274,999
$222,852
FPs (without OB)
146,129
141,148
141,965
127,061
Gastroenterologists
303,708
266,802
233,121
—*
General surgeons
255,711
260,861
209,997
225,000
Internists
151,188
145,610
143,857
134,688
Ob/gyns
242,423
227,158
218,689
195,964
Orthopedic surgeons
334,838
309,600
286,953
242,530
Pediatricians
151,567
150,117
136,627
118,217

 

Tip:

—David N. Gans, Research Director, MGMA

 

David Azevedo. What they're paying. Medical Economics 2001;1:29.

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