NEW YORK, April 14, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- For the first time in five years, the gender disparity in physician salaries narrowed, with the most significant change seen in primary care, according to the results of the 2023 Medscape Physician Compensation Report.
In a year when physician salaries overall continued to climb, women in primary care earned 19% less than male physicians, compared to 25% less in 2018. The disparity also narrowed within specialties, from a 36% difference in 2018 versus 31% in 2022. Women in primary care earned an average $239,000 in 2022 as compared to $286,000 for male physicians. For specialists, men earned an average $415,000 versus $327,000 for women.
The racial disparity gap did not budge, however, with African American and Black physicians earning 13% less than white physicians, as seen in previous reports.
Highest and Lowest Salaries, by Specialty and Region
As in previous years, the highest paid specialties included plastic surgery ($619,000), orthopedics ($573,000), cardiology ($507,000) and urology ($506,000). Lowest paid specialties were infectious disease ($262,000), family medicine ($255,000), pediatrics ($251,000) and public health and preventive medicine ($249,000).
States with the highest earning physicians were Wisconsin, Indiana, Georgia, Connecticut, and New Jersey. The lowest salaries were in Maryland, Colorado, Virginia, Massachusetts, and Arizona.
More than 10,000 U.S.-based physicians were surveyed for the report across 29 specialties. The survey was conducted from October 7, 2022, to January 14, 2023. The Medscape Report is the most comprehensive and widely used physician salary survey in the U.S., assessing compensation, hours worked, time spent with patients, and what they find most rewarding -- and challenging -- about their jobs.
Click here to view the full report: https://www.medscape.com/2023-compensation-overview
Salary Increases and the Physician Shortage
The report showed the average physician salary at $352,000, up about 4% over the previous year and more than 17% percent higher than in 2018. Specialty salaries also rose, from $368,000 in 2021 to $382,000 in this year's report.
The rise in physician incomes is the result, in part, of a physician shortage, exacerbated by retirements and the impact of burnout, with more physicians making career shifts within medicine, including reduced shifts, shift work, and a move to virtual care.
Satisfaction, Challenges, Competition
Although more than half of physicians (52%) are satisfied with their salary, the report showed growing concern with reduced insurance reimbursements, notably from Medicare and Medicaid, and competition from allied health professionals.
While most physicians said they would continue to see Medicare and Medicaid patients, the percentage dropped from 71% to 65% from the previous year.
Similarly, insurance reimbursement was among the issues cited by the 27% of doctors who said they would not choose medicine as a career if they could do it all over again. Other factors included industry issues (rules and regulations, long hours) and frustrating patients.
More than 1 in 4 physicians said the most significant competition for patients was from allied healthcare professionals, including nurse practitioners and physician assistants and alternative practitioners, i.e., chiropractors and naturopaths.
Still, most physicians (73%) said they would choose medicine again, citing the rewards of doing something they're good at (30%), gratitude from and relationships with patients (24%), and helping others (19%).
"While there is more work to be done, the progress on gender pay disparities was a positive development in this year's report," said Leslie Kane, MA, Senior Director, Medscape Business of Medicine. "That said, the issue of physician burnout, fueled by long hours and bureaucratic burdens, continues to have an impact on how physicians view their careers, their satisfaction with pay, and other aspects of medicine.
"At a time of growing physician shortages, it's important for institutions and organizations to continue to examine industry norms and practices that can hinder physician satisfaction with their career choices."
Medscape Survey Methods:
The 2023 Medscape Physician Compensation Survey was completed by 10,011 physicians representing 29 specialty areas. Respondents were invited to respond to the online survey. The margin of error for the survey was +/- 0.98% at a 95% confidence interval.
Medscape is the leading source of clinical news, health information, and point-of-care tools for health care professionals. Medscape offers specialists, primary care physicians, and other health professionals the most robust and integrated medical information and educational tools. Medscape Education (medscape.org) is the leading destination for continuous professional development, consisting of more than 30 specialty-focused destinations offering thousands of free C.M.E. and C.E. courses and other educational programs for physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals. Medscape is a subsidiary of WebMD Health Corp.
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