Only 50% of General Surgeons are Experiencing Career Satisfaction – One of Lowest Rates Among the Specialties

Medscape recently released its 2015 General Surgeon Compensation Report. The report found that nearly every specialty saw a salary increase from the previous year, with general surgeons reporting a seven percent salary increase. Yet, 49 percent of general surgeons are experiencing overall career satisfaction, which is the third lowest satisfaction rate among the specialties surveyed.

According to the study’s calculation of career satisfaction— which surveyed 19,500 physicians across 26 specialties— averages the percentage of physicians who would again choose medicine, who would again choose their specialty, and who thought they were fairly compensated.

General surgeons earn an average of $317,000 a year. The highest earnings were reported in the North Central ($328,000) and Great Lakes ($327,000) regions, while the lowest were in the West ($292,000) and South Central ($303,000). Additionally, competition, physician density and cost of living play a role in physician salaries.

In 2014, physicians were more inclined to pursue employment in a medical group, hospital or clinic setting than to be self-employed. However, in the 2015 report shows those physicians who are self-employed (32%) earn significantly more than those employed (63%). On average, self-employed primary care physicians (PCPs) earn $212,000 compared with their employed counterparts ($189,000), and self-employed specialists, on average, earn $329,000 compared to employed specialists ($258,000).


“While self-employed physicians earn more, an increasing number of doctors are seeking employment within a group practice,” said Michael Smith, M.D., medical director and chief medical editor, WebMD in a released statement. “The data show a number of  factors that may negatively impact physicians’ compensation, including the end of ACO shared savings programs, competing retail clinics, meaningful use penalties, payment-reporting websites, and changes in Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes.”


Gender plays a role both compensation and career choices. Male physicians earn more ($284,000) than their female counterparts ($215,000). Additionally, men tend to dominate the highest-paying specialties: urology (92%), orthopedics (91%), and cardiology (88%), with the highest percentages of women in the lower-paying specialties, such as pediatrics (50%) and family medicine (37%).


With regard to work schedule, more women (24%) than men (13%) are working part-time, and slightly over a third of men (36%) and about a quarter of women (23%) are self-employed.

Men and women differ regarding how they prioritize the most rewarding aspects of being a doctor. Men (34%) report they “enjoy being very good at their job and diagnoses,” while women (37%) report “gratitude” and “relationships with patients” as most rewarding.

View Medscape’s full report here.