Dollars and cents

How much money doctors are making in 2018

Physician salaries continue to rise, though pay gaps by gender and race persist, according to Medscape’s 2018 Physician Compensation Report.


For the seventh straight year, average physician compensation has increased, rising from just over $200,000 in 2011 to about $300,000 in 2018, reports Medscape in its 2018 Physician Compensation Report.

However, the report also found pay gaps by gender and race, noting that male primary care physicians earn, on average, $36,000 more than female primary care docs.

Among male and female specialists, the gap was even higher: $95,000. In general, African-American, Asian and Hispanic physicians of both genders all reported earning less than white physicians; Medscape listed age, choice of specialty and possible bias as factors that may be contributing to the discrepancy.

Here are the average reported annual salaries for physicians in the top five highest- and lowest-earning specialties:

Highest-earning specialties

  1. Plastic surgery, $501,000
  2. Orthopedics, $497,000
  3. Cardiology, $423,000
  4. Gastroenterology, $408,000
  5. Radiology, $401,000

Lowest-earning specialties

  1. Public Health & Preventive Medicine, $199,000
  2. Pediatrics, $212,000
  3. Diabetes & Endocrinology, $212,000
  4. Family Medicine, $219,000
  5. Internal Medicine, $230,000

For the report, Medscape surveyed more than 20,000 physicians across 29 specialties. To learn more, see the full report at Medscape.


  1. Hans Jones

    Why report these disparities by race when they don’t control for the aforementioned age and choice of specialty? These are both major factors and taking them into account, among other factors, will certainly eliminate any gap. All this does it’s perpetuate a false narrative.

  2. Barbara Tilben, DO, MSW

    As a family doctor, I did not earn close to the earnings that are being reported in this article! The disparity in earnings between genders unfortunately had been true for me. I didn’t know however of these differences until after I left my employment situations. I find the pay difference to be discouraging and very unfair! Clearly, despite being a highly valued professional in society, I wasn’t valued as highly apparently as my male counterparts. I am not sure this article is totally accurate and it bothers me to think that the physician salaries that are being reported here are actually correct.

    I have left family medicine. The unfairness of how we are treated and the demands made upon us now are ridiculous. Reading this article only validates why I left the profession. The sad part is that I miss my former patients and society overall needs professionals like me. I still have patients who reach out to me after not seeing them for many years.

    Unfortunately, I know also of many other health care professionals who have left the profession for similar reasons.

    1. Abe But

      Could you please clarify? You left family medical profession due to unfair treatment, ridiculous demands and lower overall pay? It seems a little strange to me

  3. Doctor B

    Where is the actual data asssociated with this report? It would be beneficial to know if the female salary is lower because more female doctors work part-time and less hours than male doctors.

    In my hospital female and male doctors are compensated equally. However, a lot of the female doctors do not work as many shifts and not as many weekends, holidays, etc. and as a result that drives down their total salary.

    Please provide more substance when posting studies like this.

  4. DO2B

    Some of this is ridiculous. I know lots of Female Physicians who, after medical school and residency, decide to have children and then choose to only work 2-3 days/week. Others have pointed out that the type of specialty and age play a role too. In addition, women are less likely to negotiate salary (Do Women Avoid Salary Negotiations? Evidence from a Large-Scale Natural Field Experiment, John A. List, Andreas Leibbrandt).

    This is a poor article, with an agenda. I concede that there are likely scenario’s of legitimate wage discrepancy based on gender, but the vast majority of businesses and corporations either pay the same salary, or hourly, to the employee regardless of gender.

    Females are also out-performing males in every level of education including High School, Associate, Bachelor, Masters, and Doctoral degree’s and have been for the last decade. 2017 saw more women than men enrolled in medical school than any other year.

    This is an achievement we should applaud, but if we continue to hear about the wage gap, when it is the women earning the majority of the degree’s who will ultimately be in these hiring positions, then we need to account for other variable’s.

    1. Arny Boats, DO, JD, MBA

      More women work part time, not anything particularly difficult about that. And yet, that obvious FACT is never mentioned in any articles EVER. I knew a bunch of women who either work light full-time schedules or work part time. I know zero male physicians below the age of 50 working part time. Based on the physicians in my region, more women are in lower paying specialties than men and men seem to work 10 hours more on average per week. Nothing wrong with that, many women (far more than men) desire to take time off to spend time with their children because they are only young once (obviously). Women tend to value that experience more than men on average and I think that is wonderful.

    1. Dr C

      Agreed. Articles like this illucidate the fact that many doctors don’t understand where the revenue comes from that makes their pay. In private practice you work, submit charges, pay your overhead, and keep what’s left. What gender you are hasn’t the slightest thing to do with it. It’s just math.

  5. Misha Denham

    As an endocrinologist and in the 3rd form the lowest compensated subspecialty, I must say I am discouraged with the Burgeoning BOOM of Diabetes Mellitus, fewer individuals will be encouraged to pursue an ever increasingly important field. Evidently the “statistics” are likely skewed as Medscape respondants to this survey are likely form “major metropolitan areas” and I suspect the rural disparities are even greater…

  6. Dr Joe

    This material is a rehash of what has been presented for the last 20 years. These studies need many more choices for the participants to check off to get more accurate data. I know studies need to be simple to get participants but they also need to have enough choices to get the data analyzed accurately.
    Add in part-time, disabled, substance abuse, hospital or outpatient, etc to get every bit of data possible-then come back with the results.

  7. PT

    As a CEO in rural Montana hospital, I question the validity of the article. I have found physician salaries to be much higher than those stated in the article. The MGMA salary surveys also show significantly higher salaries. FP’s work 4 days per week and paid at least $250,000, GI at $500,00. Internal Medicine – $250,000, Hospitalists are over $300,000.

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