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National research study finds large gaps in U.S. physician compensation

Doximity has released its second annual Physician Compensation Report, a comprehensive survey of U.S. physician compensation. This year’s study found that doctors saw an average 4 percent wage increase nationally from 2016 to 2017. However, compensation varied significantly across metropolitan areas, between genders, and across medical specialties. The report is based on more than 65,000 verified U.S. physician respondents, making it one of the largest studies available on physician pay in the United States.

“Considering the increasing concern about potential doctor shortages, having a clear understanding of physician compensation is more relevant than ever,” said Nate Gross, M.D., co-founder of Doximity. “As the largest online medical network in the U.S., Doximity has unmatched insight into issues that affect the medical community, including compensation trends and disparities.”

Key findings include:

Physician Compensation by Metro Area

  • The five metro areas with the highest average annual salary in 2017 were: Charlotte, N.C. ($402,273); Milwaukee ($398,431); Jacksonville, Fla. ($379,820); Indianapolis, Ind. ($378,011); and San Jose, Calif. ($376,585).
  • The five metro areas with the lowest average annual salary in 2017 were: Durham, N.C. ($282,035); Ann Arbor, Mich. ($302,692); Baltimore ($304,002); New Haven, Conn. ($308,262); and Rochester, N.Y. ($312,503).
  • From 2016 to 2017, the metro areas with the largest increase in physician compensation were: Charleston, S.C. (11.6 percent or $33,182 more); Milwaukee (7.3 percent or $52,601 more); Austin, Texas (7.2 percent or $45,605 more); San Francisco (6.9 percent or $58,184 more); and Las Vegas (6.7 percent or $47,256 more).

Physician Compensation by Medical Specialty

  • The five medical specialties with the highest average annual salary in 2017 were: neurosurgery ($662,755); thoracic surgery ($602,745); orthopedic surgery ($537,568); vascular surgery ($476,300); and plastic surgery ($473,212).
  • The five medical specialties with the lowest average annual salary in 2017 were: pediatric infectious disease ($191,735); pediatric hematology and oncology ($208,524); pediatric endocrinology ($214,911); pediatrics ($221,900); and preventive medicine ($231,838).

Physician Gender Wage Gap

  • In 2017, the national gender gap for physicians increased as female doctors earned 27.7 percent less ($105,000) than their male counterparts. The disparity in 2016 was 26.5 percent, when female doctors earned $91,284 less.
  • Similar to 2016 findings, there remains no medical specialty in which female doctors earn more than male doctors. Additionally, women earn less than men in all of the top 50 metro areas.
  • From 2016 to 2017, the metro areas with the largest increase in gender wage gaps were: Charleston, S.C. (8.6 percent increase); Ann Arbor, Mich. (8.2 percent increase); Riverside, Calif. (8.0 percent increase); Providence, R.I. (6.4 percent increase); and Indianapolis (6.1 percent increase).
  • In 2017, the metro areas with the largest gender wage gaps were: Charleston, S.C. (female physicians earn 37 percent or $134,499 less); Kansas City, Mo. (32 percent or $131,996 less); Nashville, Tenn. (32 percent or $118,706 less); Providence, R.I. (31 percent or $108,796 less); and Riverside, Calif. (31 percent or $115,991 less).
  • In 2017, the medical specialties with the largest gender wage gaps were: hematology (female physicians earn 20 percent or $78,753 less); occupational medicine (20 percent or $59,174 less); urology (20 percent or $84,799 less); orthopedic surgery (19 percent or $101,291 less); and gastroenterology (19 percent or $86,447 less).

“All health care stakeholders should be aware of the differences in compensation for men and women across the country,” said Christopher Whaley, Ph.D., the report’s lead author and adjunct assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health. “Compensation inequity can directly affect where and what physicians choose to practice, which could ultimately affect patient access.”

To read the full report, visit

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