Study Finds Widening Gender Pay Gap Among Physicians

John Commins, March 14, 2018

Female doctors earned 28% less than their male colleagues from 2016 to 2017. There is no medical specialty in which female doctors earn more than male doctors.

Physicians saw an average 4% wage increase nationally from 2016 to 2017, but compensation varied significantly across metropolitan areas, between genders, and across medical specialties, according to a new survey from Doximity.

The report is based on responses from more than 65,000 physicians.

"Considering the increasing concern about potential doctor shortages, having a clear understanding of physician compensation is more relevant than ever," said Nate Gross, MD, co-founder of Doximity.

The following are among the findings: 

Physician gender wage gap 

  • In 2017, the national gender gap for physicians increased as female doctors earned 28% less ($105,000) than their male counterparts. The disparity in 2016 was 26.5% when female doctors earned $91,284 less. 
     
  •  There is no medical specialty in which female doctors earn more than male doctors. Additionally, women earn less than men in all of the top 50 metro areas. 
     
  • From 2016 to 2017, the metro areas with the largest increase in gender wage gaps were: Charleston (8.6%); Ann Arbor, (8.2% increase); Riverside, CA (8% increase); Providence (6.4% increase); and Indianapolis (6% increase). 
     
  • In 2017, the metro areas with the largest gender wage gaps were: Charleston, (female physicians earn 37% or $134,499 less); Kansas City (32% or $131,996 less); Nashville (32% or $118,706 less); Providence (31% or $108,796 less); and Riverside (31% or $115,991 less). 
     
  • In 2017, the medical specialties with the largest gender wage gaps were: hematology (female physicians earn 20% or $78,753 less); occupational medicine (20% or $59,174 less); urology (20% or $84,799 less); orthopedic surgery (19% or $101,291 less); and gastroenterology (19% or $86,447 less).

Compensation by metro area

  • The five metro areas with the highest average annual salary in 2017 were: Charlotte ($402,273); Milwaukee ($398,431); Jacksonville ($379,820); Indianapolis ($378,011); and San Jose ($376,585). 
     
  • The five metro areas with the lowest average annual salary in 2017 were: Durham ($282,035); Ann Arbor ($302,692); Baltimore ($304,002); New Haven ($308,262); and Rochester, N.Y. ($312,503). 
     
  • From 2016 to 2017, the metro areas with the largest increase in physician compensation were: Charleston, S.C. (11.6% or $33,182 more); Milwaukee (7.3% or $52,601 more); Austin (7.2% or $45,605 more); San Francisco (6.9% or $58,184 more); and Las Vegas (6.7% or $47,256 more).

 Compensation by specialty

  • The five medical specialties with the highest average annual salary in 2017 were: neurosurgery ($662,755); thoracic surgery ($602,745); orthopedic surgery ($537,568); vascular surgery ($476,300); and plastic surgery ($473,212). 
     
  • The five medical specialties with the lowest average annual salary in 2017 were: pediatric infectious disease ($191,735); pediatric hematology and oncology ($208,524); pediatric endocrinology ($214,911); pediatrics ($221,900); and preventive medicine ($231,838).
John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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