Oncologist Compensation Highest in Southwest, With 23% in ACOs Already

Among physicians, oncologists fall slightly above the middle in terms of compensation, with average earnings reported at $290,000.

Among physicians, oncologists fall slightly above the middle in terms of compensation, with average earnings reported at $290,000, according to the “Medscape Physician Compensation Report for 2014.” Leading the way this year, as in past years, were orthopedists and cardiologists. Urologists and gastroenterologists reached third place in the survey. In general, physicians who perform procedures have the highest incomes compared with those who manage chronic illnesses—primary care physicians and endocrinologists are among the bottom 5 specialties in terms of compensation.

According to the survey, most of the highest physician earners live in the Great Lakes and North Central regions of the country, but this contrasted with the highest oncology earners who are located in the Southwest ($331,000) and West ($317,000). Like most physicians, the lowest earners among oncologists are in the Northeast ($255,000). However, the second lowest oncology earners are in the Great Lakes region ($272,000), while among all physicians the Mid-Atlantic is in the second lowest spot.

About a quarter of oncologists (23%) are already in accountable care organizations (ACOs) and 12% plan on joining one this year. Among nontraditional payment models, ACOs are the most predominant, with concierge practice (sometimes called direct primary care) and cash-only practices each at 4%.

In this survey, self-employed oncologists made more than those who are employed ($331,000 and $270,000, respectively), although the differences may be mitigated by the type of practice. A closer look at practice settings reveals that oncologists employed by health care organizations are the highest earners at $339,000. Those oncologists in office-based group practices follow closely ($336,000 for multispecialty groups and $334,000 for single-specialty groups). Oncologists in academic and government jobs make the least ($212,000), followed by those in hospital settings ($257,000).

Finally, when physicians were asked, “If you had to do it over again, would you choose the same specialty,” respondents who answered “yes” varied greatly by specialty:

  • Dermatology: 77%
  • Orthopedics: 64%
  • Oncology: 58%
  • Obstetrics/Gynecology: 43%
  • Internal Medicine: 27%

The researchers note that a physicians’ job satisfaction is influenced more by their choice of specialty than economic or other factors.

The survey involved 24,000 physicians across 25 specialties. Both members and nonmembers were invited to participate. Results were collected between December 11, 2013 and January 24, 2014.

Oncologist Compensation by Geographical Area

Source: © Medscape 2014