Specialists Earn More than Primary Care Doctors

Researchers at Duke University modeled the earning potential of cardiologists and primary care physicians between the ages of 22 and 65, taking into account medical school debt, earning potential and the age at which doctors begin earning an income. They conducted similar analyses for the average b-school, physician assistant and college graduate.

Full article on primary care vs. specialist career earnings.


Source for chart: Health Affairs (gated, but with abstract)

Comments (9)

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  1. Ken says:

    Looks to me like the medical profession is paid very well indeed.

  2. Tom H. says:

    You can see why doctors want to become specialists.

  3. Devon Herrick says:

    This simple table is a good explanation about why medical students increasingly go into specialties rather than primary care; and why physicians’ assistants (PAs) are pushing to expand the scope of duties which they are allowed to perform without direct physician supervision. Medical students pursuing an MD want the salary of a cardiologist while PA students want compensation similar to a primary care physician.

  4. Linda Gorman says:

    This is modeling earning potential. No sensible discussion can occur until they use real earnings for real people.

  5. Virginia says:

    I can see why docs choose to specialize. I met a primary care doc last night that is writing a book about how the quality of care decreases when you have too many specialists. He’s a little biased, but he’s probably right.

    Money or no money, the idea of being a doctor is a little too real for me. My high school had a program for kids who might want to go into medicine. I tried it my freshman year and then went back to “regular high school.” It takes a special person to handle that level of detail concerning the homan body.

  6. Stephen C. says:

    Even physician’s assistants seem to do quite well.

  7. aznativegrandma says:

    Paid well? Overhead is not figured into this data…that would be income over a lifetime if he worked alone and did all of the work himself…MD’s have nurses, front and back office and billing, not to mention equipment and supplies. How much overhead does the MBA pay?
    Physicians give up a lot…the 8 years prior to Internship, Residency and Fellowship often adds up to 12-15 years, plus a quarter to half mil in student loan debt.
    A GP in So. Cal makes as much as the manager of an In and Out Burger….

  8. Don Levit says:

    The question of appropriate pay needs to be considered in context.
    We have been doing that so far, comparing education required, temperament needed to be effective, overhead, etc.
    What also needs to be considered when looking at context, is physicians bills in relation to people’s earnings.
    Even for primary care, how much do doctors charge for a 15 minute consultation – $100?
    That would be $400 an hour.
    The median earnings is what, $18 an hour?
    Specialists fees are even more out of line with the median earnings.
    And, we haven’t even looked at hospital charges yet?
    Demand of supply and demand means also to be able to afford the good or service.
    Don Levit

  9. Dr. David E. Marcinko MBA says:

    Dr. Goodman

    Although perhaps a bit harsh, you’ve made some good points relative to your recent post regarding Regina Herzlinger and the somewhat cloistered mentality of THCB.

    Nevertheless, Matt Holt has been personally helpful to me with suggestions on our impending book BusinessofMedicalPractice.com And, I appreciate it.

    So, please allow me to offer an alternative venue for some of the other issues raised on your own blog.

    The MedicalExecutivePost is a collaborative publication serving the healthcare administration, practice management and financial planning needs of medical professionals, including HIT. As an emerging onground and online community, with more than 50 topic channels, we connect medical professionals with financial advisors and management consultants, and participate in a variety of insightful educational seminars, teaching conferences and national workshops. We produce journals, textbooks and handbooks, white-papers, CDs and award-winning dictionaries. And, our didactic heritage includes innovative R&D, litigation support, and opinions for engaged private clients and media sourcing in the sectors we passionately serve.

    Finally, I agree with Ken and Tom above. Yes doctors do [did] financially well; but perhaps no longer. Here’s why?


    Why some doctors won’t work for Uncle Sam:

    So, while we don’t want to be accused of “poaching” innovative blogging talent, we invite you to post or opine for us anytime. We too are open to same; prn.

    Dave Marcinko