Physicians in the Mid-Atlantic earn less money — pulling in an average of $282,000 — than in any other region in the nation, according to a new compensation report based on a recent survey of more than 19,000 doctors.

Physicians in the north-central region of the country make the most, an average of $317,000, reported Medscape, a news website for medical professionals. The national average: $294,000 ($217,000 for primary-care doctors and $316,000 for specialists).

The lowest-in-the-nation earnings for the Mid-Atlantic are partly a result of how the region was defined.  New Jersey ranked No. 26 among the states, with physicians earning $298,000 a year. Pennsylvania came in at No. 37, with doctors taking home $289,000.

Average Physician Pay

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Americans' median household income was $56,000 in 2015, the most recent year available from the census. But most Americans don't face the education debt and professional expenses of physicians.

According to the survey, most physicians say they aren't in it for the money: Just 13 percent said making a good living was the most rewarding aspect of their job. Male primary-care doctors' pay averaged 16 percent higher than females'.

Other highlights from the annual Medscape Physician Compensation Report, which was based on more than 19,000 survey responses between Dec. 20 and March 7:


  • Earnings were up about 5 percent from last year's survey, similar to increases in each of the last several years.
  • Orthopedists make the most ($489,000), pediatricians the least ($202,000).

Doctor’s Pay: Men vs. Women

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  • Men are paid better than women: Male specialists averaged $345,000 vs. $251,000 for female specialists; men in primary care averaged $229,000, compared with women at $197,000. The gender gap in pay decreased slightly from last year's 17 percent.

Affordable Care Act

  • Doctors say the ACA, also known as Obamacare, has brought them more patients: 52 percent of primary-care physicians attributed increases to the ACA; 38 percent of specialists did.
  • Physicians also say that the ACA's insurance exchanges, where low- to moderate-income Americans can buy subsidized private insurance, have had a slight impact on their own income: decreases were reported by 13 percent of primary care doctors surveyed (and by 15 percent of specialists), while most reported either increases or no change. A little more than a third of each said they did not participate in the exchanges last year.

Patient interactions

  • Three-fourths of all respondents said they regularly or occasionally talk about treatment costs with patients, down from 85 percent in last year's survey.
  • A third of doctors said they spend at least 46 hours a week seeing patients; 53 percent spend 30 to 45 hours a week with patients; 11 percent spend less than 30 hours.
  • Excluding psychiatrists, 11 percent of doctors said they spent 25 minutes or more with each patient; 30 percent said they spent 17 to 24 minutes; 29 percent said 13 to 16 minutes; 21 percent reported 9 to 12 minutes; and 6 percent said they spent less than nine minutes per patient.

Job challenges

  • Bureaucratic tasks are the primary cause of physician burnout, according to Medscape's separate Lifestyle Report, and the latest survey found that 57 percent of doctors spent at least 10 hours a week on paperwork.
  • Rules and regulations are the greatest challenge of their jobs, said 28 percent of respondents, followed by having to work longer hours for less money (18 percent), dealing with difficult patients (15 percent), electronic health records (12 percent), getting fair reimbursement (11 percent), and worrying about being sued (8 percent).
  • Relationships with patients are the best part of the job, said 33 percent of doctors surveyed, followed by "making good money at a job that I like" (13 percent), "knowing that I'm making the world a better place" (12 percent), and "being proud of being a doctor" (7 percent). And 3 percent said "nothing" was rewarding about their work.