Doctors Get Paid Best in Rural Areas and Lower-Cost Cities
“I’d be a bum on the street with a tin cup if markets were efficient.” – Warren Buffett
Doctors aren’t commodities – and neither are the markets they work in. That’s why there are big differences in compensation, even within the same city and within the same specialty. A recent survey from Doximity uncovered significant differences in pay that extend across regions, specialties and gender.
The Doximity study looked at pay and compensation trends for physicians across 48 specialties in all major metropolitan markets across the country. The study’s authors considered only those physicians working at least 40 hours per week, thereby ironing out gender pay differences that may arise from women physicians going to part-time work while raising a family.
It turns out the big money isn’t in the big cities. Rural areas and cities with lower costs of living tend to pay doctors more than higher cost metro markets like Chicago, San Francisco and New York City.
Moreover, throw in cost of living factors, and doctors in many of these metro markets are getting seriously squeezed, compared to their colleagues in smaller towns and cities.
According to Doximity’s survey, the best five markets for physicians when it comes to average annual salary, across all specialties, are as follows:
- Charlotte, North Carolina ($349,455)
- Bridgeport, Connecticut ($353,925)
- Phoenix, Arizona ($351,677)
- Milwaukee, Wisconsin ($345,831)
- Houston, Texas ($345,079)
The five lowest paid areas for physicians across all specialties include:
- Durham, North Carolina ($267,598)
- Ann Arbor, Michigan ($272,398)
- Baltimore, Maryland. ($281,005)
- Charleston, South Carolina ($285,933)
- Washington, D.C. ($286,242)
We note that Washington D.C., at the lowest end of the income scale, is also one of the most expensive cities in the country when it comes to cost of living concerns – and none of the highest-paying markets are anywhere near it.
Charlotte and Bridgeport also took the top rank for family doctors and primary care physicians, with an average salary of $285,189 for doctors in that relatively low-paying specialty. Modestly-priced Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Indianapolis, Indiana took third and fourth, with average salaries for primary care physicians of $272,610 and $270,468, respectively. Phoenix again took fifth place for primary care doctors with an average salary of $268,869.
Note: Salaries in the DC-Baltimore corridor are possibly skewed downward because of the high concentration of federal employees in the area, including VA centers and military installations. But the trend is clear – doctors that practice well away from tier one gateway cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Boston, Chicago and New York City are likely to be paying off student loans much faster and putting significantly more money away for retirement.
The Gender Gap
Even after slicing off part time doctors from the sample, the Doximity study found significant pay gaps between men and women. This was true for all major metropolitan markets and across all specialties. Women doctors earn 26.5 percent less than men overall, on average. And it’s not just a matter of women tending to be more likely to choose lower-paid specialties. Women underearned men in all 48 medical specialties they looked at across the country.
The best paying markets for women are Minneapolis, Minnesota ($290,747),
Phoenix, Arizona ($290,536), Milwaukee, Wisconsin ($287,950) Indianapolis, Indiana ($281,987) and Dallas, Texas ($278,825).
If you’re a Doximity member, you can access the full report here.
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