27,639 orthopedic surgeons in the US: 25 insights on compensation, satisfaction and more


There are 27,639 orthopedic surgeons practicing in the U.S., according to data firm Definitive Healthcare

Here are 25 insights on orthopedic surgeon compensation, incentive bonuses, practice setting and other topics, drawn from recent reports and surveys:

1. From 2020 to 2023, the number of orthopedic surgeons fell by 655 or 4.3%.

2. California has the most active orthopedic surgeons in the U.S. at 2,870. Texas rankled second with 1,924 orthopedic surgeons, and New York has 1,700.

3. The number of orthopedic surgeons is projected to shrink by 5,050 by 2025, according to Physicians Thrive.

4. Orthopedic surgeon pay varies by setting, according to Physicians Thrive's "2023 Physician Compensation Report:"

Single specialty: $650,000
Multi-specialty: $663,000
Rural Health Clinic: $603,000
Hospital Department Practice: $675,000
Academic Department: $400,000

5. Orthopedic surgeons are the second highest-paid medical specialty in the U.S., according to Medscape's "Physician Compensation Report 2023." Plastic surgery was the top-paying specialty.

6. The average annual pay for orthopedic surgeons in 2023 was $573,000, up 3% compared to 2022.

7. The top five cities with the highest pay for midcareer (eight to 14 years of experience) orthopedic surgeons, according to the Medscape physician salary calculator.

Louisville, Ky.: $589,622
Austin, Texas: $582,144
New Orleans: $577,726
Salt Lake City: $572,959
Sacramento, Calif.: $570,563

8. For orthopedic surgeons with 15 to 21 years of experience, the highest paying cities were:

Salt Lake City: $720,685
Austin, Texas: $652,024
Atlanta: $636,566
Cincinnati: $630,616
Indianapolis: $628,271

9. The average revenue generated by orthopedic surgeons is $3.3 million, according to a 2022 report from Merritt Hawkins.

10. On average, orthopedic surgeons earn an average $134,000 each year in incentive bonuses, according to Medscape.

11. Average orthopedic surgeon salary over the past five years, according to Medscape:

2019: $482,000
2020: $511,000
2021: $511,000
2022: $557,000
2023: $573,000

12. Twenty-eight percent of orthopedic surgeons reported having a net worth of at least $5 million in 2023, according to Medscape.

13. Eighty-two percent of orthopedic surgeons reported being named in a malpractice suit, just behind OBGYNs and general surgeons, according to Medscape's "Physicians and Malpractice Report 2023."

14. Only 10% of orthopedic surgeons are women, according to Medscape. 

15. Of the 10 largest U.S. cities, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio had the widest average pay gap between male and female orthopedic surgeons with an average $147,312 difference.

16. Forty-three percent of female orthopedic surgeons and 29% of male surgeons reported feeling burnout, according to Medcape

17. The top three contributors to burnout were too many bureaucratic tasks, lack of respect from administrators, employers, colleagues or staff, and insufficient compensation or salary.

18. Still, orthopedics was one of the happiest physician specialties outside the workplace. About 65 percent of orthopedic surgeons report feeling either happy or very happy outside of work.

19. Orthopedic surgeons report spending 13.7 hours per week on administrative work.

20. Forty-seven percent of orthopedic surgeons report spending 30 to 40 hours seeing patients weekly. Two percent spend more than 60 hours seeing patients weekly, and 23% spend less than 30 hours with patients.

21. Fifteen percent of orthopedic surgeons are still paying medical school debt.

22. Ninety-seven percent of "young orthopedic surgeons," defined by Medscape as physicians younger than 40, would choose the specialty again, according to the "Young Physician Compensation Report 2023."

23. Seventy-nine percent of young orthopedic surgeons would choose to practice medicine again.

24. There are 5.8 active orthopedic surgeons per 100,000 people, according to the U.S. Physician Workforce Data Dashboard.

25. Net revenue and case mix of orthopedic cases in ASCs, according to VMG Health's "Multi-Specialty ASC Benchmarking Study" 2022.

Average revenue: $3,791

25th percentile: $2,890

90th percentile: $5,316

Average case mix: 21%

25th percentile: 8%

90th percentile: 50%

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