Peanuts Anyone? Are Primary Care Physicians Underpaid: New study Suggests the Answer is Yes!

Overworked and underpaid is so cliché, but what makes it interesting in this case is that according to the article it appears to be true. This article describes how 19 specialties rank in terms of salary compared to annual revenue generated. What defines underpaid anyway? For that matter, what defines being overpaid? I personally don’t think any physician is overpaid, but I do think certain specialties are underpaid such as family practice, pediatrics, and psychiatry. And those specialties are likely to be the most overworked. I’ve heard it said somewhere that physicians aren’t paid for the 15 minutes you spend with the patient, you’re paid for the 12+ years you spend in education and training. “Medical Economicscrunched the numbers to see which specialties were paid the highest compared to the annual revenue they generate-and which were paid the lowest.” They found that primary care physicians-defined by the survey as internal medicine, family practice and pediatricians-ranked near the bottom in terms of salary as share of the average revenue they generate and in salary overall. 

In terms of salary share of revenue, the following was found: 

1. Otolaryngology

Average salary: $405,000

Average revenue generated: $1,937,500

Salary share (of revenue): 20.9%

2. Ophthalmology

Average salary: $300,000

Average revenue generated: $1,440,217

Salary share: 20.8%

18. Family Practice

Average salary: $241,000

Average revenue generated: $2,111,931

Salary share: 11.41%

19. Internal Medicine

Average salary: $261,000

Average revenue generated: $2,675,387

Salary share: 9.76%


In terms of overall salary:

  1. Neurosurgery: $687,000
  2. Cardiology: $590,000
  3. Ortho: $533,000

17. Psychiatry: $261,000

18. IM: $261,000

19. Family Practice: $241,000

20. Peds: $261,000

Go figure. 

To keep this interesting, let’s compare this to nurse practitioner specialties. (https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/compensation-issues/10-highest-paying-nurse-practitioner-specialties.html). Here are the top-paying nurse practitioner specialties, listed by annual base salary:

• Anesthesiology: $166,969
• Psychiatry: $139,976
• Pediatrics: $131,302
• Orthopedics: $123,820
• Urology: $120,545
• Emergency Medicine: $117,366
• Hospitalists: $115,512
• Cardiology: $112,567
• Radiology: $111,500
• Gastroenterology: $110,795

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