March 27, 2019
3 min read

Physician wages plateau, but pay gap narrows between men, women

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Overall wages for U.S. physicians have plateaued, but the disparity in pay between men and women has narrowed slightly, according to a new report.

Physician wages nationwide — which increased steadily for years — have leveled off, declining by less than 1% overall from 2017 to 2018, according to Doximity's third annual Physician Compensation Report.

Pay for male physicians has remained flat the past 2 years, whereas pay for female physicians increased by 2% from 2017 to 2018.

“Compensation transparency is a powerful force. As more data become available to us, exposing the pay gap between men and women, we see more movements to rectify this issue,” Christopher Whaley, PhD, adjunct assistant professor at UC Berkeley School of Public Health and lead author of the report, said in a press release.

Despite the narrowing wage gap, male physicians continue to earn an average of $1.25 for every $1 female physicians earn, according to an analysis performed across metropolitan statistical areas.

The report — which draws on responses from approximately 90,000 licensed U.S. physicians over a 6-year period — also revealed considerable pay variations based on employment type, medical specialty and metropolitan area.

“All medical stakeholders should be aware of the differences in compensation across the nation and within specialties,” the report’s authors wrote. “We hope the trends shown in this report can help better inform medical students, physicians, health care organizations, and health care policymakers.”

Below is an overview of the report’s key findings.


Employment type

Average compensation in 2018, along with percentage change in compensation from the previous year, varied greatly by employment type.

Single specialty group — $377,414 (1% increase from 2017);

Solo practice — $366,967 (3% increase);

Multispecialty group — $360,767 (1% increase);

Health system/integrated delivery network/accountable care organization — $342,027 (no change);

Industry/pharmaceutical — $337,547 (17% increase);

Hospital — $330,433 (7% decrease);

Health maintenance organization — $327,784 (1% decrease);

Academic — $307,180 (9% decrease).


Compensation by metro area

Metro areas with the highest compensation for physicians in 2018 were:

Milwaukee, Wisconsin ($395,363);

New Orleans, Louisiana ($384,651);

Riverside, California ($371,296);

Minneapolis, Minnesota ($369,889); and

Charlotte, North Carolina ($368,205).



Metro areas with the lowest compensation for physicians in 2018 were:

Durham, North Carolina ($266,180);

Providence, Rhode Island ($267,013);

San Antonio, Texas ($276,224);

Virginia Beach, Virginia ($294,491); and

New Haven, Connecticut ($295,554).


Metro areas with the highest growth rate in compensation between 2017 and 2018 were:

Seattle, Washington (15%);

Hartford, Connecticut (13%);

Riverside, California (12%);

Cincinnati, Ohio (12%); and

Baltimore, Maryland (10%).


Metro areas with the lowest growth rate in compensation between 2017 and 2018 were:

San Antonio, Texas (10% decrease);

Tampa, Florida (10% decrease);

Virginia Beach, Virginia (7% decrease);

Chicago, Illinois (7% decrease); and

Louisville, Kentucky (6% decrease).


Compensation by specialty

Specialties with the highest average annual compensation in 2018 were:

Neurosurgery ($616,823);

Thoracic surgery ($584,287);

Orthopedic surgery ($526,385);

Radiation oncology ($486,089); and

Vascular surgery ($484,740).


Specialties with the lowest annual compensation in 2018 were:

Pediatric infectious disease ($185,892);

Pediatric endocrinology ($201,033);

Pediatrics ($222,942);

Pediatric hematology and oncology ($222,953); and

Family medicine ($242,352).


Compensation by physician sex

Female physicians received the highest average annual salaries in the following metropolitan areas:

Milwaukee, Wisconsin ($351,247);

Bridgeport, Connecticut ($319,577);

Seattle, Washington ($306,310);

Minneapolis, Minnesota ($303,416); and

Riverside, California ($302,937).


Female physicians received the lowest average annual salaries in the following metropolitan areas:

Providence, Rhode Island ($220,482);

Durham, North Carolina ($226,594);

Louisville, Kentucky ($230,754);

Virginia Beach, Virginia ($232,172); and

Austin, Texas ($232,333).


Metropolitan areas with the smallest wage gaps between men and women were:

Birmingham, Alabama (female physicians earned 9% less than men, a difference of $28,542);

Bridgeport, Connecticut (10% less; $35,817 difference);

Seattle, Washington (15% less; $56,011 difference);

Milwaukee, Wisconsin (14% less; $57,077 difference); and

Jacksonville, Florida (16% less; $57,853 difference).


Metropolitan areas with the largest wage gaps between men and women were:

Louisville, Kentucky/Jefferson County, Indiana (female physicians earned 40% less than men, a difference of $154,077);

New Orleans, Louisiana (32% less; $131,394 difference);

Austin, Texas (31% less; $106,748 difference);

Hartford, Connecticut (31% less; $118,813 difference); and

Dallas, Texas (31% less; $120,116 difference). – by Joe Gramigna