2023 Medscape Report: Physician Salaries Rise as Gender Gap Narrows

2023 Medscape Report Physician Salaries Rise as Gender Gap Narrows image

The largest difference for women was seen in primary care, but the disparity also narrowed within specialties.

Doctor salaries continue to rise as the gender gap narrows, according to the 2023 Medscape Physician Compensation Report. 

The largest difference for women was seen in primary care, but the disparity also narrowed within specialties, from a 36% difference in 2018 versus 31% in 2022. 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.

As in previous years, the highest paid specialties included plastic surgery ($619,000), orthopedics ($573,000), cardiology ($507,000) and urology ($506,000). Dermatologists made about $443,000 in 2022. The 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.

Salary Increases and the Physician Shortage 

The new 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. (Can you afford to drop out of Medicare? Read this article and find out.)

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 one in four physicians said the most significant competition for patients was from allied health care professionals, including nurse practitioners and physician assistants and alternative practitioners, ie, 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 and relationships with patients (24%), and helping others, (19%).

Medscape Survey Methods:

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.

 Respondents were invited to respond to the online survey. The margin of error for the survey was +/- 0.98% at a 95% confidence level.

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