Location, Location, Location: Where You Practice Determines Your Salary, but So Does Your Gender

In Doximity’s physician compensation survey, average salaries among female cardiologists were 18% lower than for their male colleagues.

Location, Location, Location: Where You Practice Determines Your Salary, but So Does Your Gender

A new survey quantifying the salaries of American physicians sheds light on some jaw-dropping regional differences and disparities between men and women. Cardiologist salaries were the eighth-highest of the 20 specialties included in the survey, but as other reports have shown, female cardiologists are making substantially less than their male counterparts.

The survey results were recently published as a report by the physician networking site Doximity.com.

Cardiologists earned an average of approximately $415,000 per year, significantly lower than neurosurgeons who average $620,000 per year. Pediatric infectious disease specialists were the lowest earners at $186,000 per year. Additionally, foreign-trained doctors reported salaries that averaged 2.5% lower than their colleagues who were trained in the United States, a difference that translated to $8,300 less per year.

For physicians as a whole, North Carolina ranks both at the top and the bottom of the physician pay scale for all combined specialties. While those working in Charlotte have the highest average annual salaries in the country at $359,455, physicians working in Durham average much less at $267,598 annually. Other metropolitan areas with high salaries are Bridgeport, CT ($353,925); Phoenix, AZ ($351,677); Milwaukee, WI ($345,831); and Houston, TX ($345,079).

The survey also provides some eye-opening statistics on the gender gap in salaries between male and female physicians. Across all specialties, women make about $91,000 per year less than the average male physician, a difference of 26.5%. Among cardiologists, women are paid an average of 18% less per year than their male colleagues ($346,000 vs $422,000). That difference is greater than the gap of roughly $34,000 to $37,000 between male and female cardiologists found by previous reports on cardiology’s wage gap.

‘Daunting’ Disparity in Pay

“I’m just appalled,” said Roxana Mehran, MD (Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY), in an interview with TCTMD, noting that the sex difference persisted across the board nationally, with no instances where women made more than men in any particular area of the country or in any specialty.

“Even where the gaps were not as large in one specialty compared with another specialty, there are still huge [gender] gaps,” she said. “I think we have a long way to go to correct that, but the first step is to get the word out there and start the conversation. I’m not surprised [by the survey], but to me it’s daunting to see this kind of pay gap. For equal work, there should be equal pay.”

The metropolitan areas in which women physicians are paid the highest are Minneapolis, MN, and Phoenix, AZ, where the average salary is over $290,000 per year. In contrast, Durham has the lowest paid women physicians in the country, averaging $205,635.

Circling back to Charlotte, NC, the home of the highest physician salaries is also home to the largest gender gap, with a 33% difference in salaries between male and female providers. That difference translates to female physicians working in that city taking home an average of $125,035 less per year than their male peers. Even in Sacramento, CA, which had the smallest pay differences, women physicians still reported making 19% less per year than men.

The salary data in the Doximity survey were obtained from self-reported compensation surveys of over 36,000 full-time, licensed physicians who practice at least 40 hours per week, and the information was gathered between late 2014 and early 2017. Doximity describes itself as the largest professional network for healthcare professionals in the United States, purporting to have more than 70% of all physicians as members.

  • Mehran reports no relevant conflicts of interest.