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ObGyn salaries jumped in the last year

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A full 10% rise in income and 16% rise in starting salary were seen in 2015 over 2014. What is the gender picture and work satisfaction in these salary numbers and practice settings?

In this Article

  • ACOG takes aim at burnout
  • Considering salary and leadership disparities
  • ObGyns’ greatest practice concerns



The mean income for ObGyns rose by 10% in 2015 over 2014 ($277,000 compared with $249,000), according to a recent report from Medscape.1 This jump follows a gradual increase over the last few years ($243,000 in 2013; $242,000 in 2012; $220,000 in 2011).1−3 The report included responses from 19,183 physicians across 26 specialties, 5% (nearly 1,000) of whom were ObGyns.1

The highest earners among all physician specialties were orthopedists ($443,000), cardiologists, and dermatologists. The lowest earners were pediatricians ($204,000), endocrinologists, and family physicians. The highest ObGyn earners lived in the Southwest ($307,000), the North Central region, and the West.1

Merritt Hawkins & Associates, a national physician search and consulting firm, recently evaluated the annual starting salaries and year-over-year increases of 3,342 of its physician and advanced practitioner recruiting assignments. They found that ObGyns had the second greatest increase in starting salaries among specialties, at 16%. They also found obstetrics and gynecology to be among the top 5 specialties most in demand.4

The gender picture
As in past years, male ObGyns reported higher earnings than their female counterparts: full-time male ObGyns earned $304,000 while full-time female ObGyns earned $256,000.1

According to a report published in the British Medical Journal in June 2016, there are drastic differences between the incomes of white and black male and female physicians in the United States.5 White male physicians had an adjusted median annual income of $253,042 (95% confidence interval [CI], $248,670−$257,413), compared with $188,230 ($170,844−$205,616) for black male physicians, $163,234 (95% CI, $159,912−$166,557) for white female physicians, and $152,784 (95% CI, $137,927−$167,641) for black female physicians.

How does employment status factor in? Of the self-employed, men earn $310,000 while women earn $285,000. Men who are employed report earning $293,000, with women reporting $244,000.5 (This includes full-time workers but does not control for the number of hours worked.) When Medscape evaluated full- versus part-time work (<40 hours per week), results indicated that, among primary care and most other specialties, more female physicians (25%) are part-timers than males (12%).6 However, among ObGyns, 13% of women report part-time employment versus 16% of men.1

Time with patients. Medscape reports that, among all physicians, 41% of men spent 17 minutes or more with their patients, compared with 49% of women. For office-based ObGyns, 31% of men and 39% of women spent 17 minutes or more with patients.1

Can disparity in leadership positions explain gender-related salary discrepancy?
In 2015, 48% of all medical students were female.7 In residency, the ratio of men to women is similar: For 2013−2014, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) reported that 46% of all residents were female.8 For ObGyn residency, however, the AMA’s FREIDA Online specialty training search (detailing 2014 general program information) indicates that, of the 5,018 active residents and fellows in ObGyn, 81.4% are female.9

Although the ObGyn field is becoming female-dominated, leadership within the specialty remains male dominated, points out Laura E. Baecher-Lind, MD, MPH, Director of the Division of General Obstetrics & Gynecology at Tufts Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Baecher-Lind authored a study in 2012 in which she explored whether the proportions of ObGyn leadership positions held by women reflect the proportion of women who entered the field at the same time as current leaders.10 She found that very few academic department chair positions in ObGyn are held by women, although that number is gradually increasing.10 In addition, her study results indicated that women should hold 71 of the total of 194 ObGyn leadership positions. In actuality, 41 of the leadership positions were held by women (21.1%, P<.001) when based on the proportion of women entering residency programs. When considering only leaders who graduated during the years in which residency matching data were available, she found that women should hold 28 of 74 leadership positions, but they actually held 20 (27.0%, P = .05).10

Could the salary discrepancy disappear if more women held leadership positions? OBG <scaps>Management</scaps> posed this question to Dr. Baecher-Lind. “I suspect that the gender pay gap would persist,” she said. “Studies indicate that women hold implicit gender bias as strongly as men. This bias leads to devaluing women’s skills and accomplishments compared with men’s and is a strong contributor to the leadership and pay gaps in this country and in our specialty. We need to be mindful of this implicit bias and work against it with policies such as salary transparency and salary audits to encourage parity.”11

Do patients have a gender preference for their ObGyn?

Although multiple surveys have been published regarding patient gender preference when choosing an ObGyn, overall results have not been analyzed. To address this literature gap, Kyle J. Tobler, MD, and colleagues at the Womack Army Medical Center in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, searched multiple sources to provide a conglomerate analysis of patients' gender preference when choosing an ObGyn. An abstract describing their study was published in Obstetrics & Gynecology in May 2016 and presented at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists 2016 Annual Clinical and Scientific Meeting, May 14−17, in Washington, DC.1

A personal impetus for studying gender preference
The impetus for this project truly was initiated for Dr. Tobler when he was a 4th-year medical student. "I was trying to decide if Obstetrics and Gynecology was the right field for me," he said. "I was discouraged by many people around me, who told me that men in ObGyn would not have a place, as female patients only wanted female ObGyns. And with the residency match at 60% to 70% women for ObGyn, it did seem that men would not have a place. Thus, I began searching the literature to verify if the question for gender preference for their ObGyn provider had been evaluated previously, and I found mixed results." After medical school Dr. Tobler pursued this current meta-analysis to address the conflict-ing results.

Details of the study
Dr. Tobler and his colleagues explored PubMed, Embase, PsycINFO (American Psychological Association's medical literature database), Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (EBSCO Health's database), Scopus (Elsevier's abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature), and references of relevant articles. Included were 4,822 electronically identified citations of English-language studies, including surveys administered to patients that specifically asked for gender preference of their ObGyn provider.

The researchers found that 23 studies met their inclusion criteria, comprising 14,736 patients. Overall, 8.3% (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.08-0.09) of ObGyn patients reported a preference for a male provider, 50.2% (95% CI, 0.49-0.51) preferred a female provider, and 41.3% (95% CI, 0.40-0.42) reported no gender preference when choosing an ObGyn.1

What about US patients?
A subanalysis of studies (n = 9,861) conducted in the United States from 1999 to 2008 (with the last search undertaken in April 2015) showed that 8.4% (95% CI, 0.08-0.09) preferred a male ObGyn, 53.2% (95% CI, 0.52-0.54) preferred a female ObGyn, and 38.5% (95% CI, 0.38-0.39) had no gender preference.1

"We were surprised by the numbers," comments Dr. Tobler. "The general trend demonstrated a mix between no preference or a preference for female providers, but not by a large margin."

"We considered analyzing for age," he said, "but most of the studies gave a mean or median age value and were widely distributed. We were able, however, to break our analysis down into regions where one would expect a very strong preference for female providers--the Middle East and Africa. But, in fact, results were not much different than for Western countries. Our results for this subanalysis of Middle Eastern countries and Nigeria (n = 1,951) demonstrated that 8.7% of women (95% CI, 4.1-13.3) preferred a male provider, 51.2% (95% CI, 17.2-85.1) preferred a female provider, and 46.9% (95% CI, 9.3-84.5) had no gender preference."1


  1. Tobler KJ, Wu J, Khafagy AM, et al. Gender preference of the obstetrician gynecologist provider: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Obstet Gynecol. 2016;127(5)(suppl):43S. Accessed May 18, 2016.


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