Radiology salaries reflect U.S. healthcare imbalance

November 1, 2008

While radiology is the highest paid and most popular specialty, primary care remains the lowest paid and least popular among graduates, according to a research letter published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

While radiology is the highest paid and most popular specialty, primary care remains the lowest paid and least popular among graduates, according to a research letter published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

University of Georgia professor Dr. Mark H. Ebell compared the 2007 median income for physicians in various specialties and their rate of residency positions filled with U.S. graduates. Radiologists were at the top with an average starting salary of $350,000 and every position filled. At the other end of the spectrum, family medicine had an average starting salary of $130,000 and 304 positions vacant. Internists and pediatricians didn't fare much better (JAMA 2008; 300[10]:1131-1132).

Greater percentages of primary care physicians correlate with better population health outcomes, Ebell said. Rising student debt and lower salaries, however, deter U.S. graduates from pursuing careers in primary care. Addressing salary disparities could turn the trend around.