A 5% increase in average starting salary for the 2017-2018 recruiting year enabled invasive cardiologists to replace orthopedic surgeons as the top physician earners, according to physician recruitment firm Merritt Hawkins.
Invasive cardiologists who started new jobs in the past year received an average starting salary of $590,000, compared with $563,000 in 2016-2017, while orthopedic surgeons took an 8% cut as their starting salaries dropped from $579,000 to $533,000, Merritt Hawkins reported in its 2018 Review of Physician and Advanced Practitioners Recruiting Incentives.
Gastroenterologists were third in 2017-2018 with an average of $487,000, which was down 1% from $492,000 the year before, noninvasive cardiologists were fourth at $427,000 (down 0.2%), and dermatologists were fifth at $425,000 (a 1% increase), Merritt Hawkins said in the report, which included data from 3,045 search assignments conducted from April 2017 to March 2018.
Besides the orthopedic surgeons, specialists who saw considerable drops in pay from 2016 to 2017 included otolaryngologists (–13%), radiologists (–15%), and urologists (–16%), according to the report.
“Demand for specialists is being driven upward by population aging and other factors. Average salaries, however, do not always correspond to increases in demand, at least not initially, as the market needs time to adjust to changing supply and demand dynamics,” Merritt Hawkins noted.