Demand for radiology still high, average salaries up 4%

Radiology is the fourth most requested physician search assignment for the second consecutive year, according to a new report from Merritt Hawkins. In addition, the specialty’s average base salary is $387,000, up 4.3% from $371,000 in 2017/2018.

The report, 2019 Review of Physician and Advanced Practitioner Recruiting Incentives, includes data from more than 3,000 permanent physician and advanced practitioner search assignments that occurred from April 2018, to March 31, 2019. Radiology is tied with internal medicine as the No. 4 most requested search assignment, trailing just family medicine, psychiatry and OB/GYN. The report describes this as a “continued resurgent demand for radiologists” following a significant drop in demand “due in part to the 2007 recession and to the growing use of both domestic and offshore teleradiology services.”

“Renewed demand for radiologists was inevitable, however, because imaging remains central to diagnostic and procedural work in today’s healthcare system, in which very little transpires without a picture,” according to the report. “The importance of radiology is enhanced with each technological advance (including artificial intelligence) that makes imaging techniques more varied and effective.”

One demand-related trend imaging professionals should keep an eye on is a potential shortage of certain specialist physicians, including radiologists.

“While demand remains strong for primary care physicians, specialists are increasingly needed to care for an older and sicker population,” Travis Singleton, executive vice president of Merritt Hawkins, said in a prepared statement. “In some medical specialties, shortages are emerging that will pose a serious challenge to public health.”

Looking closer at salary data for radiologists, the specialty’s high base salary is $550,000 and the low base salary is $245,000. Those numbers were $650,000 and $309,000, respectively, in 2017/2018. Teleradiology’s average base salary is $360,000, the high base salary is $400,000 and the low base salary is $320,000.

Also, to show just how much compensation can change depending on where a physician lives, the average salary for radiology was the lowest in the West ($300,000) and highest in the Southeast ($425,000).

Coverage of 2018’s edition of this same Merritt Hawkins report can be read here.