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Survey: Physicians in the North Central United States Earn the Most in 2016

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Earlier this month, Medscape released its “Physician Compensation Report 2016,” and according to Carol Peckham over at the publication’s website, the report is based on information collected from “nearly 19,200 physicians in over 26 specialties,” who “disclosed not only their compensation, but also how many hours they work per week, how many minutes they spend with each patient, the most rewarding part of their job, changes to their practice resulting from healthcare reform, and more.”

In our last post, we compared how much physicians were making in their specialties in 2016 compared with 2015. This time, we look at physician compensation in the United States by geographic region.

According to Peckham, “This year, the highest earnings were reported in the North Central ($296,000) and Southeast ($287,000) regions, while the lowest were in the Northeast ($266,000) and Mid-Atlantic ($268,000).”

Physicians in the Northwest and Great Lakes regions earn on average $283,000 annually, while physicians in the West average $281,000, in the Southwest $277,000, and in the South Central region of the United States $286,000.

Several factors were at play here, Peckham writes, including geographic supply and demand, along with “uneven distribution of physicians to patient volume, particularly in primary care,” which “has been a problem for decades in rural and poor communities. Numerous government policies are aimed at improving access to physicians in these areas. As a result, higher incomes are found in these regions.”

According to one expert interviewed by Medscape, “While government programs certainly influence compensation, it is largely socioeconomics and competition that drive compensation on a macro scale. We are seeing the compensation gap between rural and urban areas diminish. Where it was once routine to see salaries 10 percent to 15 percent higher two to three hours outside of the metropolitan market, now you see urban markets with large delivery systems raise salaries to level the playing field. In turn, that has caused smaller, more rural markets to add more compensation via salary, signing bonuses, and loan forgiveness.”

As physicians who are looking for jobs, how much do you think government programs influence your earning potential versus the socioeconomics of a particular geographic region? Which region of the country are you attracted to the most as your job search progresses? How much does the earning potential in a region drive that search?

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