The Dose

Welcome to The Dose, which tackles the business and economics inside the turbulent world of health care and life sciences in Indiana. Your host is John Russell. To contact me call 317-472-5383.

Which medical specialties make big bucks?

April 22, 2016

Doctors have it rough: long hours, huge responsibilities, lots of running around, not enough time to talk to patients.

And now add one more indignity: a pecking order for annual earnings.

In case you didn’t know, not all specialties pay alike. Some specialties make great dough (nearly a half-million bucks a year, on average) while others make only about half that.

If you want to do a deep dive and see all the numbers, you’re in luck. Medscape, a website for physicians and health professionals, this month published its annual Physician Compensation Report. It’s based on surveys with nearly 20,000 physicians across 26 specialties, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 0.68 percentage points.

First, some quick hits:

* Indiana ranks No. 6 among all states for top-earning physicians. Hoosier docs earn an average of $304,000. (North Dakota, believe it or not, is No. 1, with $348,000. Rhode Island is No. 50, with $224,000.)

* Overall, 31 percent of U.S. physicians are women. The specialties with the most female physicians are Ob/Gyn (55 percent), pediatrics (53 percent) and pathology (42 percent).

* The specialties that have the best career satisfaction are dermatology, oncology, psychiatry, pathology and emergency medicine. The worst career satisfaction: urology, allergy, endocrinology, internal medicine and nephrology.

Now for the real stuff: money.

Medscape asked physicians how money ranked in terms of the most rewarding aspects of the job.

Out of the top five options, making money ranked fourth, behind relationship with patients, being good at what I do, and “knowing that I’m making the world a better place.”

The only answer that scored lower than money was “being proud of being a doctor.” Pride apparently doesn’t count for much.

So anyway, which doctors make the biggest bundle?

You’ve been waiting long enough. Here are the top five specialties in annual earnings:

* Orthopedics: $443,000

* Cardiology: $410,000

* Dermatology: $381,000

* Gastroenterology: $380,000

* Radiology: $375,000

And now for the bottom five:

* Allergy: 222,000

* HIV/ID: $215,000

* Family medicine: $207,000

* Endocrinology: $206,000

* Pediatrics: $204,000

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