The top 5 physician salaries by specialty

Doctors who want to make the highest salaries should go into orthopedics.

That was the conclusion again in 2019, according to Medscape’s physician compensation report.

The good news for all physicians was that the average salary continued to climb in 2019, increasing to an average of $313,000, which was up from an average of $299,999 in 2018. Specialists continued to draw bigger paychecks with an average salary of $341,000 versus primary care physicians who bring in an average salary of $237,000.

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The Medscape report was based on a survey of almost 20,000 physicians in more than 30 specialties. Here are the top 5 highest paid specialties:

1. Orthopedics: $482,000

2. Plastic surgery: $471,000

3. Otolaryngology: $461,000

4. Cardiology: $430,000

5. Dermatology: $419,000

While those were the highest paid doctors, those at the bottom of the pack were public health and preventive medicine doctors who earned an average of $209,000; pediatricians at $225,000 and family medicine physicians at $231,000.

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Other survey results included:

  • In contrast to a recent report by Doximity that showed the gender pay gap was narrowing, the Medscape survey found the gap continued to grow. Medscape said the gender gap among U.S. physicians increased by six points, with men making 25% more than women.
  • Doctors reported a sharp increase in paperwork and administrative tasks. The majority (74%) said they spend more than 10 hours a week and more than a third said they spend over 20 hours a week on these tasks.
  • Practices are increasingly using nurse practitioners and physician assistants. Fifty percent of doctors said they employ nurse practitioners and 36% use physician assistants.