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Most physicians would trade pay for more autonomy

The data: US doctors’ average compensation declined 2.4% in 2022, according to Doximity’s Physician Compensation Report 2023. That’s compared with an increase of 3.8% in 2021.

  • More than 31,000 physicians answered Doximity surveys between January and December 2022.

Behind the numbers: Doximity didn’t specify a figure for 2022’s average salary—although it did give averages for some specialties.

  • Surgeons make the highest salaries. Neurosurgeons averaged $788,313 in 2022. Thoracic, orthopedic, plastic, and vascular surgeons were not far behind.
  • Pediatricians make the lowest salaries. A pediatric endocrinologist averaged just $218,266 in 2022. Pediatricians specializing in infectious diseases, rheumatology, oncology, and nephrology all averaged less than $240,000.
  • For context, the median US salary was $54,132 in 2022, per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But doctors work hard for those big pay packages:

  • Most spend 11 to 15 years in training: Four years in an undergraduate program, four more in medical school, then three to seven years in a residency program to learn a specialty.
  • The average medical school graduate carries $250,990 in student loan debt.
  • Less than half (48%) of physicians say they are very or somewhat happy at work, compared with 75% who said the same in 2021, per Medscape’s Physician Lifestyle and Happiness Report 2023.
  • More than half (53%) of physicians say they are burned out, and 23% report being depressed, per Medscape’s Physician Burnout and Depression Report 2023. Those figures are up from 42% and 15%, respectively, in 2018.
  • 71% would take or have taken lower compensation in exchange for more autonomy or a better work-life balance, per Doximity.

Our take: Doctors are people too. They deal with family and financial obligations in the same inflationary environment as the rest of us. It would surprise some observers that Toyota, Honda, and BMW are the top three car brands among US physicians—and they have been (in that order) for the past six years, per Medscape.

This article originally appeared in Insider Intelligence's Digital Health Briefing—a daily recap of top stories reshaping the healthcare industry. Subscribe to have more hard-hitting takeaways delivered to your inbox daily.