Radiologist earnings inch up; many would redo career choice

The average annual income for a radiologist is $351,000, according to Medscape's 2015 Physician Compensation Report, a 3% increase compared to its 2014 report

A total of 19,657 physicians from 26 different specialties were surveyed for the report. Data was collected between Dec. 30, 2014 and March 11, 2015.

According to the report, radiologists in healthcare organizations make more ($399,000) than those in any other practice setting. Radiologists who work in office-based solo practices make less ($237,000) than those in any other practice setting, and radiologists in hospitals are in the middle of the pack ($351,000). Radiologists in the Northwest reported the highest average annual income ($404,000); radiologists in the mid-Atlantic states reported the lowest average income ($327,000).

Overall career satisfaction among radiologists is 51%, which comes in at just 17th out of the 26 practices studied for the report. This number is technically identical to 2014, but digging deeper, there are some statistics that show radiologists growing more and more unhappy with their careers. In 2011, radiologists were asked these questions: If you had to do it all over again, would you choose medicine as a career? (66% said yes.) Would you choose radiology as your specialty? (82% said yes.) Would you choose your current practice setting? (56% said yes.)

In this year’s study, radiologists sound much less enthusiastic. If they could do it all over again, 49% said they would choose medicine as a career, 52% would choose radiology as their specialty, and 32% would choose their current practice setting. That 49% figure was the lowest of any of the 26 fields that answered the question.

“Morale continues to be an issue for physicians, who are frustrated with the myriad changes in healthcare and an uncertain future,” Carol Peckham, director of Medscape editorial services, said in her summary of the findings.

Peckham looked closer at these numbers, saying it’s hard to define exactly what causes dissatisfaction among physicians. “It is interesting that compensation levels do not appear to play a significant role in whether physicians would choose their profession again,” she said. “The specialists most likely to choose medicine again are not necessarily the highest paid, nor are those least likely always the lowest paid.”

She cited some studies that identify changing payment models as a factor in the dissatisfaction, including this 2015 report from RAND, but made no specific conclusions herself.

Some other noteworthy statistics from the report include:

·         Self-employed radiologists average earnings of $411,000 per year. Employed radiologists average much less, $309,000 per year.

·         78% of self-employed radiologists say they will continue taking Medicare and Medicaid patients in 2015. 76% of employed radiologists said the same thing. 19% of radiologists, both self-employed and employed, say they have not decided.

·         55% of female radiologists, and 52% of male radiologists, are satisfied with their income.