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Lowest Paying Physician Careers

Which Physician Jobs Pay the Worst of All Physician Careers?


While money often is not the primary reason people decide to become doctors, money often factors into the decision when choosing a medical specialty.  Due to the large amount of debt prospective physicians often incur during the many years of additional school and training, earning potential can be very important for some physician candidates.  Find out which physician careers pay the lowest of all physician jobs.

1. Geriatrician

Nurse examining boy in doctors office
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Physicians who specialize in caring for elderly patients (generally age 65 and over) are called Geriatricians.  These specialists earn about $183,523 per year, based on the 2010 median income reported in 2011 to the MGMA.  Geriatricians are family practitioners or internists who do an additional fellowship in geriatric medicine. However, despite the additional training, geriatricians earn less then their counterparts who remain in internal medicine or family medicine.

2. Psychiatrist

Psychiatrists are physicians who specialize in treating the mental health of their patients.  In the most recent compensation report, general psychiatrists reported a median annual income of $199,996 for 2010. Psychiatrists who specialize in treating children and adolescents reported a slightly higher median income of $206,108.

3. Hospice and Palliative Care

Hospice and palliative care is a relatively new medical specialty for physicians to practice. Often, primary care physicians or geriatricians may complete additional fellowship training in hospice and palliative care, which focuses on long term illnesses and terminally ill patients.

Physicians in this specialty reported a 2010 median income of $196,262, according to the MGMA's 2011 physician compensation report.

4. Pediatrician

Pediatricians specialize in providing primary healthcare for children ages 0-18 year of age.  General pediatricians earn a median income of about $192,423 per year, according to the MGMA compensation report.  Some pediatric subspecialists earn even less than general pediatricians.  For example, a pediatric endocrinologist earns about $178,506 annual median income.

5. Family Medicine (Family Practitioner) - Primary Care

Family practice doctors are also amongst the lowest earners of the physician workforce. Family practitioners who only practice ambulatory (office-based) medicine earn the least among FPs with an average income of about $176,717.  FPs who practice a combination of out-patient and in-patient (hospital-based) medicine earn slightly more, with an median annual income of about $189,402.  FPs who practice obstetrics in addition to family medicine earn the most, around $196,742 per year.

6. Internist - Internal Medicine - Primary Care

Physicians who practice general internal medicine (adult primary care) earn a median income of about $205,379, according to the MGMA 2011 compensation report based on 2010 income.

Internists who practice ambulatory care only earn slightly less, with a median income of about $202,067.

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