2024 physician salary report: Incomes increase, but many remain unsatisfied

July 1st, 2024 9 Min read 2024 physician salary report: Incomes increase, but many remain unsatisfied Blog

Physicians received an average 3% salary increase in 2023, according to Medscape’s 2024 Physician Compensation Report — but 61% of doctors surveyed said they felt U.S. physicians were underpaid. Learn more about physician salary in the highlights from the 2024 report below.

Average physician income has increased but Medicare cuts are affecting it

The average physician income in 2023 was $363,000 annually, compared to $352,000 in 2022 and $339,000 in 2021. Though the 2024 physician salary report shows a 3% increase overall, a 2% Medicare reimbursement cut affected income for many doctors.

Graphic with text stating average physician salary in 2023 for all physicians, PCPs, and specialists

The average primary care provider saw the highest salary increase — about 4% — and earned about $277,000 annually in 2023, up from $265,000 in 2022.

Orthopedists are the highest-paid physicians

While plastic surgeons have held the top slot among specialty physicians over the past few years, orthopedists reported the highest salary in 2023, an average of $558,000 annually. Plastic surgeons were the next highest-paid at $536,000 annually, followed by cardiologists ($525,000), urologists ($515,000), and gastroenterologists ($512,000).

Top 5 highest-paying specialties for physicians in 2023

Graphic showing list of top 5 highest-paid specialties for physicians in 2023

However, plastic surgeons reported the most significant decrease in pay in 2023 with an average loss of about 13%. Orthopedists also reported a 3% decrease in income, and otolaryngologists (which rank tenth for highest salaries) saw a 5% decrease.

Doctors who specialize in physical medicine and rehabilitation saw the largest pay increase (11%), followed by neurology (10%), and nephrology, allergy, and immunology (9%). Though urologists and gastroenterologists are among the top five highest-paid specialties, their salaries increased by only 2% and 3%, respectively.

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The wage gap between male and female primary care providers decreased in 2023

While male physician specialists earned more than their female counterparts by about 31% in 2023 (compared to 27% in 2022), the wage gap between male and female primary care providers (PCPs) decreased from 19% in 2022 to 17% in 2023. This occurred because female PCPs' compensation increased at a rate more than twice their male counterparts’ compensation.

Male physicians earned an average of $400,000 annually, compared to $309,000 for female physicians. The biggest wage gap was among male specialists, who earned an average of $435,000 annually compared to female specialists ($333,000).

Comparison of male and female physicians' salaries in 2023

Graph showing pay disparity between male and female physicians in 2023

Healthcare consultant Elizabeth Woodcock of Woodcock & Associates in Atlanta, GA., says in the Medscape report that “female physicians are often less engaged in negotiations about compensation” than male physicians, and that women could help themselves by changing medical practices to have more bargaining power.

About half of physicians feel they are fairly paid

While about 61% of physicians said they felt doctors were underpaid, when asked whether they felt they were fairly paid themselves — given their work demands — 49% of physicians said yes.

Do physicians feel fairly paid, given their work demands?

Chart showing percentage of physicians who feel they are fairly paid in 2023

However, this satisfaction varies between specialties. Those working in public health and preventative medicine were the happiest with their compensation (65%), followed by those in dermatology (62%) and psychiatry (61%).

Physicians who were least happy with their compensation were those working in infectious diseases (34%), diabetes and endocrinology (36%), and ophthalmology (36%). Infectious disease physicians and endocrinologists also ranked near the bottom of pay rankings for specialists.

Self-employed physicians earn slightly more than employed physicians

Though self-employed physicians earned an average of $391,000 annually in 2023 compared to employed physicians — who earned an average of $353,000 annually — the difference in compensation is shrinking. Self-employed physicians (owners of/partners in a group practice or those working locum tenens) earned about 20% more than employed physicians in 2021 but only 9% more in 2022 and 11% more in 2023.

Still, about 38% of physicians surveyed reported taking extra work to supplement their incomes, with 7% adding more hours to their primary job, 11% doing medical moonlighting, and 20% engaging in other medical-related work.

Percentage of physicians taking on extra work to supplement their income

Chart showing percentage of physicians who take supplemental work, broken down by type of work

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Physicians working in the Midwest earn the highest salaries

Considering moving to or working in a new state? The 2024 physician salary report showed incomes in the West North Central region — North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, and Missouri — earned the highest incomes, about $404,000 annually on average.

Those working in the East South Central region, which includes Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama, earned the next-highest salaries (about $375,000 annually). Both regions have large rural areas and a low number of doctors working there, which drives competitive wages.

Regions where physicians earned the most

Map showing physician pay by region

Go where you’re needed most: The top 10 states with the highest demand for healthcare professionals

Physician salaries are increasing, but feelings about pay is mixed

Though the 2024 physician salary report showed that doctors did receive increased pay last year, their perceptions of fair compensation, also considering the wage gap between male and female physicians, remain mixed. Additionally, the number of physicians who work outside of their primary jobs or add more hours to supplement their income is also steady.

Want to learn more? Read the full Medscape report

CompHealth can help you find the position that’s right for you. Give us a call at 800.453.3030 or view today’s physician job openings to get started.


Lindsay Wilcox

Lindsay Wilcox is a communication professional with experience writing for the healthcare and entertainment industries as well as local government. When she's not circling typos, she's enjoying fish tacos and hanging out with her family.

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