Report: Location, Gender, and Race Play a Role in Doctor’s Salary

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Last Updated: Jul 7, 2017

He’s a doctor? I’m sure he earns a lot of money. How many times have you thought this way when you found out someone was a doctor? We immediately picture them driving convertibles and living in expensive apartments.

However, that is not really the case unless someone has a big, successful clinic on their own. The truth is, most people don’t even know how much doctors earn anyway, we just assume they get a lot. The latest report gives a glimpse in doctor pay and some surprising factors that influence how much some healthcare professional earns. Curious? Keep reading to find out more about this subject.

How Much Do Doctors Earn, Then?

There are numerous misconceptions about physicians and the assumption they earn some outrageous amount of money is one of them. The Medscape Physician Compensation Report sheds some light on this subject. This report poses as the most comprehensive and widely used physician salary survey in the US for the 7th year in a row. In fact, more than 400,000 doctors in this country used this report to access salary information and many other factors associated with their jobs. To this year’s survey, about 19,200 doctors in 27 specialties responded to help compile this unique report.

Results of the survey showed that doctors’ income is increasing for the 6th year in a row. Back in 2011, the average salary was $206,000 while in 2017 it is much higher, $294,000. That said, the growth is uneven, which is why a doctor’s salary depends on different factors.


Gender Although we’re living in the 21st century we witness the gender pay gap in most professions, and doctors are not the exceptions from this unfair rule. The report revealed that female doctors still earn less than their male colleagues. However, it seems that the gap is slowly, but surely narrowing. In 2017, female physicians earned 16% less than their male counterparts, down by 3% comparing to the figures from 2012.

For example, while male MDs reported $229,000 on average, their female colleagues earned $197,000. The biggest gender pay gap is present in specialties where women earn 37% less compared to men. More precisely, female doctors in medical specialties earn $251,000 on average, while men get $345,000.

There seems to be an explanation to why female doctors earn less than men; women are more likely to work in physician groups or hospitals while a majority of self-employed doctors are men and they tend to make more money. Moreover, female doctors usually work in lower-paid specialties like pediatrics, family medicine, and psychiatry.


Race Although Medscape publishes their report on doctors’ income annually, this is the first time they took race into account. So, they found that white doctors are paid more than African American, Asian, or Hispanic colleagues.

While white doctors earn $3030,000 a year on average, African American doctors get $262,000, Asian doctors earn $283,000, while Hispanic doctors get $271,000.


The location also plays a role in the amount of money some doctor earns. For instance, rural areas offer the best pay, particularly those with shortages of medical personnel. Results from the Medscape’s survey only confirm previous research which showed that physicians in sparsely populated and rural areas earn 13% more than their counterparts from other states. That said, there’s a minor catch, they also work longer during the day.

The lowest-earning states for MDs in 2017 are:

  • Delaware – $268,000
  • New Mexico – $261,000
  • Rhode Island – $261,000
  • Maryland – $260,000
  • Washington D.C. – $235,000

On the other hand, the highest-earning states are:

  • North Dakota – $361,000
  • South Dakota – $346,000
  • New Hampshire – $337,000
  • Alaska – $259,000

Best Earning Specialties

Best Earning Specialties The report showed that doctors who work in specialties earn 50% more compared to primary care physicians. While primary care doctors earn about $217,000 on average, specialists get $316,000. Based on survey findings, doctors from these specialties saw an increase in their salary:

  • Allergy and immunology (15%)
  • Ear, nose, and throat (13%)
  • Ophthalmology (12%)
  • Orthopedics (10%)
  • Pathology (10%)
  • Plastic surgery (24%)
  • Pulmonology (11%)

See Also: Reasons Why Employees Are Not Happy With Our Jobs?


According to the latest report on doctors’ salaries published by Medscape, the average income keeps increasing for the 6th year in a row. However, the findings also shed some light on problems that penetrated into every aspect of American society. Not only female doctors are paid less, but one’s race also determines how much will that doctor earn.

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