TUESDAY, Oct. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Primary care doctors earn
the lowest hourly wages among physicians, and this may be one
reason for U.S. medical students' declining interest in primary
care, suggests a new study.
Researchers looked at the wages of 6,381 physicians providing
patient care in 2004-2005 and grouped them into four broad
categories: primary care; surgery; internal medicine and pediatric
subspecialties; and other.
Overall, clinicians worked an average of 53.1 hours per week and
earned an average annual income of $187,857. Compared to primary
care specialists, wages were 48 percent higher for surgeons, 36
percent higher for internal medicine and pediatric subspecialties,
and 45 percent higher for clinicians in other specialties.
When the researchers analyzed 41 specific subspecialties, they
found that neurologic surgeons ($132 an hour) and radiation
oncologists ($126 an hour) earned the highest wages. Those with the
lowest hourly wages were in internal medicine and pediatrics ($50)
and other pediatric subspecialties ($52).
General surgeons' hourly wages were close to the midpoint of
$86, which was much higher than for internal medicine and
pediatrics combined ($24 less), internal medicine ($24 less),
family medicine ($24 less), and other pediatric subspecialties ($23
The study, published in the Oct. 25 issue of the journal
Archives of Internal Medicine, also found that neurologic
surgeons, radiation and medical oncologists, dermatologists,
orthopedic surgeons and ophthalmologists earned $17 to $50 more per
hour than general surgeons.
"The primary care wage gap was likely conservative owing to
exclusion of radiologists, anesthesiologists and pathologists," J.
Paul Leigh and colleagues at the University of California Davis
School of Medicine said in a news release from the publisher. "In
light of low and declining medical student interest in primary
care, these findings suggest the need for payment reform aimed at
increasing incomes or reducing work hours for primary care
The American Medical Association has more about
careers in health care.