Monday, April 15, 2019

Anesthesiologists Are Making More Money Than Ever

Despite all the concerns about the changes in the healthcare industry, physicians appear to be doing quite well. Medscape just released its latest annual report about physician compensation. For 2019, the survey shows that primary care doctors earned 21.5% more than in 2015. For specialists, the pay increase was 20%. That's well above the consumer price index and shows the fear of Obamacare may have been overblown.

Anesthesiologists are still some of the top earners in medicine. Sure we don't reach quite the heights like Cardiology or Orthopedics, but our income is still ranked in the top ten of all physicians. Medscape reports that in 2019, anesthesiologists reported an average compensation of $392,000. That compares to $358,000 back in 2015, an increase of 9.5%. While that's not the 20% increase of other specialists, it still keeps us in the upper echelon, though not in the top five as in previous surveys.

Could the reason that anesthesia income hasn't risen as much is because more women are entering the field? Another part of the survey shows that the specialties that women gravitate towards, like primary care, tend to have lower income. But that's not necessarily because of sex discrimination. The poll shows that women work about ten percent fewer hours than men. Meanwhile the top income earners like ortho and cardiology have much fewer women in their ranks. Or perhaps we are just training too many anesthesiologists for the market to bear.

To sum it up, anesthesiologists' incomes are still rising. It's not going up as quickly as other specialties but it is still a respectable compensation. And I would much prefer to be an anesthesiologist than some face disfiguring ENT surgeon any day.


  1. MGMA is more reliable than Medscape. Not perfect, but better. And some physician groups use MGMA to ballpark offers. Anyway here's what MGMA 2019 (based on 2018 data) says for anesthesiologists:

    25th percentile: $381,096
    Median: $461,052
    75th percentile: $537,699

    What's surprising to me is that CRNAs are making approximately the same money (or maybe they're making more money if it's per hour) and likely have a better lifestyle than primary care physicians (e.g. family medicine, pediatricians). I'm not a PCP, but that seems unfair to our (physician) colleagues. Something smells rotten in the state of Denmark or at least in the states that allow CRNAs to practice independently.

  2. Doesn't total compensation include benefits as well? Not just salary I believe. If it is the I'm at bottom 15 percent probably..