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Healthgrades for ProfessionalsPhysician Salaries Ranked by Hourly Rate

Shifting the Focus from Annual Salary to Hourly Rates Reveals New Insights into Physician Compensation and Work-Life Balance

Physicians often compare their annual salaries to gauge their financial standing, but what happens when we factor in the hours worked? This analysis dives into the latest Medscape Compensation Report to calculate average hourly rates across specialties, offering a fresh perspective on the age-old question of physician compensation.

HCN Medical Memo
This analysis serves as a reminder that compensation is not solely about annual salary; it’s also about the hours put into the job. Although specialties like neurosurgery and plastic surgery may offer higher financial rewards, they also demand a significant time commitment. On the other hand, fields like dermatology offer a more balanced lifestyle. As you consider your career path or potential shifts in specialty, remember that both financial and non-financial factors should weigh into your decision.

Key Points
  • Neurosurgery tops the list with an hourly rate of $272, followed by plastic surgery at $242 and orthopedic surgery at $221.
  • Dermatology stands out as a “sweet spot” with a strong work-life balance, earning $205 per hour for an average of 44.2 hours per week.
  • General surgeons and critical care specialists work long hours but rank in the middle tier of hourly rates, at $146 and $144 respectively.
  • Primary care physicians (PCPs) earn less per hour and work hard, a fact that surprises no one in the healthcare community.
  • Despite the financial disparities, more than 95% of plastic surgeons, urologists, and orthopedic surgeons would choose their specialty again, compared to about two-thirds of PCPs.

“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”
– Henry David Thoreau

Additional Points
  • The updated estimate of hours worked per week in the Medscape report were lower than some previous estimates from the Association of American Medical Colleges.
  • The figures for Neurosurgery come from Doximity’s annual compensation report and historical work hours, as it was not broken out in the Medscape report.
  • Most physicians claim they did not choose medicine for the monetary rewards, according to recent surveys.

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