Despite compensation drop, radiology earnings still high among specialties

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The pay of radiologists may have declined last year, but they still remain among the highest compensated medical specialtists, according to Medscape's 2014 compensation report.

For the report, Medscape surveyed more than 24,000 physicians in 25 specialties, finding that radiologists averaged $340,000 in compensation in 2013, ranking behind only orthopedics, cardiology, urology and gastroenterology. Still, radiologists also were one of five specialties to report a decrease (2.5 percent) in compensation last year.

Meanwhile, Diagnostic Imaging released its own compensation survey earlier this month, and found that the mean salary for radiologists is about $355,000, with more than half of all radiologists earning more than $300,000 a year.

Breaking down the figures demographically, female radiologists lagged behind their male counterparts, averaging $316,000 in compensation compared to $347,000 for men. According to Medscape, this is consistent with previous surveys and other specialties, where men are still higher earners. Geographically, the radiologists with the highest earnings came from the South Central region ($375,000), the Great Lakes region ($365,000), and the Mid-Atlantic ($348,000); the area with the lowest compensation levels was the North Central region ($264,000).

The highest paid radiologists work in healthcare organizations, outpatient clinics and office-based group practices, while the lowest paid work in academia and government positions, according to the survey. Of those surveyed, 45 percent said that if they "had to do it all over again" they would choose medicine as a career, and 54 percent said they would choose the same specialty; just 26 percent said they would choose the same practice setting.

Overall, radiologist career satisfaction rank fell slightly below the middle of the 25 surveyed specialties (dermatology ranked the highest, while plastic surgery ranked lowest). When asked what the most rewarding part of their job is, 60 percent said "being very good at what I do/finding answers, diagnoses," 11 percent said "making good money at a job I like," 9 percent said "gratitude/relationships with patients," 8 percent said "knowing I'm making the world a better place;" and 5 percent said "being proud of being a doctor."

To learn more:
- check out this slideshow touting Medscape's compensation report
- see Diagnostic Imaging's survey

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