23 statistics for orthopedic surgeons — compensation, net worth & more Featured

Written by  Mary Rechtoris | Sunday, 02 August 2015 00:00
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UPDATE: We have updated this article in 2016 to include new statistics. Click here to read "21 statistics and facts for orthopedic surgeons - compensation, net worth & more" in 2016.


Here are 23 statistics to know:

1. Orthopedists earn an average salary of $421,000 annually. Orthopedic surgeons are considered the top earners for 2015, with cardiologists coming in second making an average salary of $376,000, according to Medscape’s 2015 compensation report. 1


2. Compensation for orthopedic subspecialists varied. Here are the medians from lowest to highest. 3
•         Foot and Ankle                   $505,606
•         Hand                                   $513,864
•         Pediatrics                            $516,544
•         Trauma                               $540,197
•         Sports Medicine                 $549,048
•         Joint Replacement              $563,896
•         Oncology                            $569,353
•         Spine                                   $749,445

3. Orthopedic subspecialists also had different signing bonuses. The general orthopedic surgeons received an average signing bonus of $35,000. The other benchmarks include:
•         Foot and Ankle                   $50,000
•         Hand                                   $40,000
•         Pediatrics                            $30,000
•         Trauma                               $50,000
•         Sports Medicine                 $60,000
•         Hip and Joint                      $50,000
•         Spine                                  $40,000

4. Orthopedic surgeons' compensation increased 2 percent from last year. Infectious disease physicians experienced the greatest increases in compensation with a staggering 22 percent. The orthopedic surgeon compensation breakdown by setting is:
•         Hospitals and health systems: $473,000
•         Single specialty groups: $466,000


5. Medscape released in its "Physician Debt and Net Worth Report 2015" statistics about orthopedic surgeon net worth.  7

Here are five statistics (all percentages are approximations):
• Under $500,000: 21 percent
• $500,000 to $999,999: 16 percent
• $1 million to $1.9 million: 26 percent
• $2 million to $5 million: 27 percent
• Over $5 million: 10 percent


6. Orthopedists make $29,000 each year for non-patient care activities. 1

7. Various factors including the end of ACO shared-saving programs, meaningful use penalties, payment-reporting websites and changes in CPT could have impacted compensation for both employed and self-employed orthopedists.

Approximately 21 percent of orthopedists participate in accountable care organizations, a 3 percent increase from last year. Eight percent of orthopedists not currently in ACOs are expected to be part of an ACO this year. 1

8. In the last three years, 20 percent of employed and 41 percent of self-employed orthopedists stated they have offered new ancillary services. 1

9. The AAOS membership is comprised of 92.1 percent male orthopedists and 5 percent female orthopedists. (A reported 2.9 percent did not disclose their gender)

Compensation for orthopedic surgeons varied based on gender and if the surgeon was self-employed. A male orthopedic surgeon who is self employed made an average of $451,000 compared to a female self-employed orthopedist that made $319,000.

A male orthopedist that was not self-employed made an average of $411,000 with his female counterpart making an average of $329,000 each year. The large discrepancies may partially be attributed to women working shorter hours and fewer weeks than men.

Female orthopedists are generally more satisfied with their incomes than male orthopedists. A reported 45 percent of female orthopedists are satisfied with their income as opposed to 42 percent of male orthopedists. 1, 2

10. Compensation varies based on geographic location because of the cost of living in certain areas as well as the need to recruit physicians to underserved places with lower costs of living. The highest earnings this year for orthopedists were reported in the Northwest, with an average compensation of $460,000 and in the Great Lakes regions with an average compensation of $457,000. The lowest compensation rates were in the West with a reported average compensation of $333,000 and the Northeast with an average compensation of $381,000.

These compensation rates vary slightly from the rates in the 2014 Medscape Orthopedist Compensation Report. The highest orthopedist earners were in Northwest region making an average compensation of $468,000 with the lowest earners practicing in the West making an average of $343,000. 1


11. The average starting salary for a general orthopedic surgeon is $419,439. An orthopedic hand surgeon makes an average starting salary of $320,000. A sports medicine orthopedic surgeon makes an average starting salary of $412,500. 3

12. Cash-only practices and concierge practices are not popular payment models for orthopedists with a mere 4 percent of orthopedists engaging in cash-only practices and a reported 3 percent in concierge practices.1

13. Orthopedic surgeons perform an average of 29 procedures each month. Full-time orthopedists perform 32 procedures each month and part-time orthopedists perform an average of six procedures each month.  2

14. The number of hours orthopedists spend with patients is decreasing. A reported 46 percent of orthopedists spend 30 to 45 hours each week seeing patients with less than 44 percent of orthopedists exceeding those hours. Between 1997 and 2007, there was a decrease of nearly four hours a week among all physicians seeing patients. 1

15. Only 22 percent of orthopedic surgeons reported they are planning to participate in health insurance exchanges. Thirty percent of orthopedists claiming they were not participating in health insurance exchanges, up from 24 percent who were not participating in health insurance exchanges in the 2014. 1

16. Wyoming, Montana, Net Hampshire, Vermont and South Dakota have the highest density of orthopedic surgeons. Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas, West Virginia and Michigan have the lowest orthopedic surgeon density. 2

17. Despite the AMA warning physicians that regulations could cut Medicare payments by more than 13 percent by the end of decade, a reported 73 percent of employed and 58 percent of orthopedists in private practice stated they will continue accepting Medicare or Medicaid patients. 1

18. The majority of orthopedists reported gratitude/relationships with patients as the most rewarding aspect of the job. A reported 42 percent of male orthopedists and 45 percent of female orthopedists reported this reason as the most rewarding aspect. Only 4 percent of male orthopedists and 5 percent of orthopedists found nothing rewarding about being an orthopedic surgeon. 1

19. A reported 50 percent of orthopedists claimed they would choose a career in medicine again if they were able to start over. A reported 67 percent stated they would choose the same specialty and 22 percent stated they would choose the same practice setting, according to Medscape Orthopedist Compensation Report 2015. 1

20. Physicians suffer more burnout than almost any other profession in the United States. A reported 45 percent of orthopedists are "burned out." Many factors including too many bureaucratic tasks, impact of the ACA, spending too many hours at work and income not being high enough may contribute to physician burn out. 5

21. The majority of orthopedists are fiscally conservative. Approximately 81 percent of orthopedists who are not "burned out" claimed they are fiscally conservative with only 13 percent of orthopedists who are not "burned out" being fiscally liberal. The numbers are comparable for those orthopedists who claimed they were "burned out." Of those orthopedists, 84 percent claimed they were fiscally conservative with a mere 10 percent of orthopedists claiming they are fiscally liberal. 5

22. Fifty-one percent of orthopedists who are not "burned out" reported being socially liberal as opposed to 43 percent stating they were socially conservative. 5

Of the orthopedists who identified as "burned out," 43 percent identified as socially conservative with 51 percent claiming to be socially liberal.

23. Fifty-three percent of orthopedists reported being overall satisfied with their careers. Orthopedists lie in the middle of overall satisfaction compared to other specialties. The most satisfied physicians are dermatologists, with 63 percent of dermatologists being satisfied with their careers. The least satisfied physicians are the internists with only 47 percent claiming to be satisfied. 1



1 Medscape Orthopedist Compensation Report 2015. Available at http://www.medscape.com/features/slideshow/compensation/2015/orthopedics


2.  American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Available at http://www.aaos.org/home.asp

3 The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery. Available at http://orthobuzz.jbjs.org/2015/01/31/agma-survey-orthopaedic-compensation-up-2-5-over-last-year/


4 Association of American Medical Colleges. Available at https://www.aamc.org/services/first/first_factsheets/399572/compensation.html


5 Medscape Orthopedist Lifestyle Report 2015. Available at: http://www.medscape.com/features/slideshow/lifestyle/2015/orthopedics#22


6 2011 Orthopedic Recruiting Trends & Starting Salary Overview Available at: http://ww3.orthopedicrecruiting.com


7 Medscape Physician Debt and Net Worth Report 2014. Available at:http://www.medscape.com/features/slideshow/compensation/2015/debt-and-net-worth#page



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