Physician and Surgeon Jobs

Training and Education Jobs and Salaries

Physicians and surgeons hold about 633,000 jobs and approximately fifteen percent are self-employed. About half of wage and salary physicians and surgeons work in offices of physicians, and 18 percent are employed by hospitals. Others practice in Federal, State, and local governments, including colleges, universities, and professional schools, private colleges, universities, and professional schools, and outpatient care centers. According to data from the American Medical Association (AMA), about one half of physicians in patient care are in primary care, but not in a subspecialty of primary care.

Employment of physicians and surgeons is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations. Job opportunities should be very good, especially for physicians and surgeons willing to practice in specialties including family practice, internal medicine, and OB/GYN, or in rural and low-income areas where there is a perceived shortage of medical practitioners. Employment of physicians and surgeons is projected to grow 14 percent from 2006 to 2016, faster than the average for all occupations. Job growth will occur because of continued expansion of health care related industries.

The growing and aging population will drive overall growth in the demand for physician services, as consumers continue to demand high levels of care using the latest technologies, diagnostic tests, and therapies. Demand for physician services is highly sensitive to changes in consumer preferences, health care reimbursement policies, and legislation. For example, if changes to health coverage result in consumers facing higher out-of-pocket costs, they may demand fewer physician services.

Patients relying more on other health care providers such as physician assistants, nurse practitioners, optometrists, and nurse anesthetists also may temper demand for physician services. In addition, new technologies will increase physician productivity. These technologies include electronic medical records, test and prescription orders, billing, and scheduling.

Opportunities for individuals interested in becoming physicians and surgeons are expected to be very good. In addition to job openings from employment growth, numerous openings will result from the need to replace physicians and surgeons who retire over the 2006 - 2016 decade. Unlike their predecessors, newly trained physicians face radically different choices of where and how to practice. New physicians are much less likely to enter solo practice and more likely to take salaried jobs in group medical practices, clinics, and health networks.

Reports of shortages in some specialties, such as general or family practice, internal medicine, and OB/GYN, or in rural or low-income areas should attract new entrants, encouraging schools to expand programs and hospitals to increase available residency slots however, because physician training is so lengthy, employment change happens gradually. In the short term, to meet increased demand, experienced physicians may work longer hours, delay retirement, or take measures to increase productivity, such as using more support staff to provide services. Opportunities should be particularly good in rural and low-income areas, as some physicians find these areas unattractive because of less control over work hours, isolation from medical colleagues, or other reasons.

Earnings of physicians and surgeons are among the highest of any occupation. The Medical Group Management Association Physician Compensation and Production Survey, reports that median total compensation for physicians varies by specialty. For example those in anesthesiology make between $260,000 and $322,000 while those in family practice without obstetrics make between $137,000 and $157,000. The compensation for physicians reflects the amount reported as direct compensation for tax purposes, plus all voluntary salary reductions. Salary, bonus and incentive payments, research stipends, honoraria, and distribution of profits are included in total compensation.

Self-employed physicians - those who own or are part owners of their medical practice - generally have higher median incomes than salaried physicians. Earnings vary according to number of years in practice, geographic region, hours worked, skill, personality, and professional reputation. Self-employed physicians and surgeons must provide for their own health insurance and retirement. Physicians work to prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases, disorders, and injuries. Other health care practitioners who need similar skills and who exercise critical judgment include chiropractors, dentists, optometrists, physician assistants, podiatrists, registered nurses, and veterinarians.