Physician Salary

Career as a Physician



By Diane Turner

Physicians or doctors as they are popularly referred to are medical professionals who provide healthcare by examining patients and administering various treatment options. As we all know, there are various types of physicians and the two main classes of physicians are M.D also known as a Medical Doctor and D.O which is a title used to describe a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. Both types of physicians have similar job descriptions, the major difference being that D.Os are mainly into holistic patient care, preventative medicine and give more emphasis to the musculoskeletal system.

If you are interested in becoming a physician, you have a great deal of education to go through but as they say, the ends justify the means. The job is highly fulfilling and they are amongst the best paid professionals in the country. Becoming a physician requires about 11 years of post secondary education. This is therefore not the kind of profession you get into without thinking through the implications. If you thought the years of study are a tough duration and the coursework is even harder. Your first step is pre-med and this is usually four years of college education. In order to qualify into medical school, your premed education needs to focus on subjects such as chemistry and biology after which you can apply for medical school. There are various medical schools and competition is tough especially if you want to get into the most prestigious schools. You will have to do exceptionally well in college so as to qualify for the entrance tests. Medical schools require another four years of education. The first two years are spent in classrooms and labs with the final two years spent working in a clinical environment under the supervisionphysicians and surgeons. Medical school is quite expensive. In fact, 88% of public medical school graduates and 85% of private medical school graduates were in debt as of 2010.  The expenses are therefore something you need to look into.

After medical school, graduates get into a residency program and this is usually in their specialized fields of medicine. The minimum duration for residency is usually three years and this could go up to an extensive eight year residency program. In order to become a physician, you need to be licensed and the licensing requirements often vary depending on the state in which you practice. To qualify for a physician license, you must have completed and passed all levels of education. That said, there is also the standard license exam and this is taken under the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) for M.Ds and the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Exam (COMLEX-USA) for D.Os. These exams are required for certification and M.Ds are certified under the American Board of Medical Specialties (AMBS) while D.Os are certified under the American Osteopathic Association (AOA).

Despite having the right education, this is a profession that requires various personal skills and you need to posses qualities such as: organizational skills, attention to detail, empathy, dexterity, leadership skills, good communication skill, patience and problem solving skills amongst others. Being a physician, you willhave to deal with various personalities on a daily basis. Some of your patients will be difficult while others are scared and you must be able to make all your patients comfortable enough to share with you and stay confident in your abilities. 

As of 2010, there were 691,000 physicians in the US and this number has without a doubt increased over the past duration given the fact that the industry expects a 24% increase by 2020.  The average salary for a physician is $166,400 or $80 per hour. Different fields of specialization come with their different pay averages and there are physicians who earn more than $300,000 as their annual average.

Physician Average Salary

As mentioned above the salary for a physician is $166,400 on annual average. However, the pay is subject to a lot of factors, and those who are in specialized medical fields earned an average $356,885 annually while primary care physicians took home $202,392.

Physician Salary Factors and Influences

There are various factors that affect a physician’s salary and these are specialty, gender, region and many more.

Did you know that male physicians earned 40% more than female physicians? Well, it’s true and this is across all specialization fields of medicine. This figure was released by Medscape who conducted the survey. Male physicians in primary care earned more than women by 23% while in obstetrics and gynecology they still took the lion’s share earning 12% more than their female colleagues. Believe it or not the gap is actually improving but it still goes to show that your gender has a large role to play as far as the salary of a physician is involved.

Specialty also plays a significant role in the amount of money a physician takes home and surgeons are generally higher paid than physicians. Neurologists, cardiologists and radiation oncologists are thebest compensated specialties.  If the basis for youmedical career choice is on the salary, you may want to identify the best paying specialty to pursue.

Last but least, the location matters and the best paying cities to work in as a physician include Texarkana, TX, Pensacola, FL, Lowell, MA and Springfield, MT  where the annual average pay is more than $250,000.

Physician Salary Compared To Related Fields

As we said, there is no doubt that physicians are well paid. But just how well do their salaries compare to other medical practitioners? We find out below.

Average Salary for Dentist: $142,740

Average Salary for Optometrists: $94,990

Average Salary for Registered Nurses: $65,000

Average Salary for Veterinarians: $82,040

Average Salary for Podiatrists: $118,030

Average Salary for Pharmacist: $113,390

Average Salary for Dental Hygienist: $69,280

Physician Salary by State

If you are wondering how various states pay their physicians, the following information will definitely be useful.

Physician Salary in North Dakota: $172,870

Physician Salary in Oregon: $215,490

Physician Salary in Minnesota: $235,730

Physician Salary in California: $182,580

Physician Salary in Texas: $190,490

Physician Salary in Arkansas: $176,700

Physician Salary in Arizona: $182,140

Physician Salary in Alaska: $222,820

Physician Salary in Illinois: $163,050

Physician Salary in New York: $164,750

Physician Salary in Florida: $201,170

Physician Types of Salaries

There are various physician specialties and now we will find out what the average salary of a physician is based on area of specialization.

Cardiologist Average Surgery: $172,000

Cardiologists treat heart diseases and are amongst the most respected and well paid professionals in medicine.

Neurologist Average Salary: $166,000

A neurologist is a doctor who treats disorders and diseases that affect the nervous system.

Anesthesiologist Average Salary: $118,000

Anesthesiologists treat chronic pain and administer anesthesia to their patients depending on cause of pain and condition. They are also tasked with monitoring patients during surgery.

Pediatrician Average Salary: $117,000

Pediatricians are children doctors. They treat mainly infants, toddlers, along with teenagers.

Endocrinologist Average Salary: $130,000

Endocrinologists are physicians who are trained to deal with hormone imbalances.

Orthopedic Surgeon Average Salary: $172,000

An orthopedic surgeon works to preserve and restore the normal function within the musculoskeletal system.

History of Physicians

The medical profession is an intricate one especially because healthcare wasevident even in ancient times. Though many would assume that medicine was quite primitive back then, scientists would beg to differ. Cave paintings which are believed to be more that 25,000 years old depict what some scientists say were the very first physicians. Though not as sophisticated as modern day physicians, they still used plants to treat certain diseases and they did infact work. There have also been skulls with holes discovered and these holes are believed to have been enforced by physicians for pain relief. While medical procedures such as root canals still terrify many today, they were performed in Egypt more than 7000 years ago and this just goes to show that physicians and the world of medicine have a long history.

The first medical school in the US begun in 1765 and this was the College of Philadelphia or what is now known as the University of Pennsylvania. Today there are about 125 medical schools which admit more than 17,000 students. The physician profession now boasts of over 690,000 practicing physicians who earn an average salary of $166,400.

Physician Salary Outlook – Conclusion

Employment in the physician field is expected to grow by 24% from the year 2010 to 2020. While there is an obvious demand for physicians and their services, the profession is under threatthanks to the same technology that has made modern medicine so efficient. There may be no need for so many doctors in the future as technology takes over areas such as surgery. The good news is that with the increasing number of the aging population, the need for healthcare is not going to reduce anytime in the near future. The projected employment increase between 2010 and 2020 is said to increase the number of physicians by 168,300 which means you can expect 859,300 physicians up from the current. 691,000. As we already saw, certain specialization areas command a better pay and these includecardiology and radiology as well. Though average physician salary is currently $166,400, you can expect this scale to increase even more as demand and the number of physicians in the country increase.