Cardiology ranks 4th among specialties with $430K average salary

Cardiologists earn the fourth-most money of any medical specialty, according to Medscape’s 2019 physician compensation report, bringing in an average of $430,000 each year.

Medscape surveyed 19,328 physicians across more than 30 medical specialties, with cardiologists representing about 3% of respondents.

The only specialties that outpaced cardiology in average earnings were orthopedics ($482,000), plastic surgery ($471,000) and otolaryngology ($461,000). Cardiology and orthopedics have been ranked among the top five for each of the past five years.

The average salary of cardiologists as reported to Medscape is lower than the $454,000 from another recent survey compiled by Doximity. Still, the average pay for those physicians is on an upward trend compared to the previous two Medscape surveys—$423,000 in the 2018 report and $410,000 in 2017.

Just 14% of cardiology respondents for the 2019 report were women, the third-lowest proportion of any specialty. The only fields with fewer female physicians were orthopedics (9%) and urology (12%).

The report also highlighted the administrative burden many physicians face, which is one of the key contributors to burnout. Thirty-six percent of respondents reported spending at least 20 hours per week on paperwork and administration, while another 38% reported spending 10 to 19 hours per week on those tasks.

Twenty-six percent of those surveyed said “having so many rules and regulations” was the most difficult part of their job. Other commonly cited challenges included working with electronic health records, working long hours, dealing with difficult patients and getting fair reimbursement.

On the other hand, 29% said patient relationships were the most rewarding parts of the job. Additional rewarding aspects of being a physician, according to the respondents, included satisfaction in being good at the job and finding the right answers and diagnoses, and knowing they were making the world a better place.

Fifty-four percent of cardiologists reported feeling they were fairly compensated, which ranked 10th among all specialties. Specialists in public health and preventive medicine were most likely to say they felt fairly compensated (73%), while infectious disease specialists were the least likely (42%).

Eighty-three percent of cardiologists said they would choose medicine again as a career path, which tied for second behind infectious diseases (84%). And 90% of cardiologists reported they would choose the same specialty.