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How much money do doctors make? Way more in rural areas, report says

An anesthesiologist in Massachusetts could increase his or her salary by 61 percent by relocating to Wisconsin.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

Doximity's career map shows average physician salaries in regions across the United States.Doximity's career map shows average physician salaries in regions across the United States.

Urban physicians looking to up their incomes may want to consider moving to rural areas in North Dakota, South Dakota, or Mississippi, where doctors receive higher salaries, according to a new report by physician social networking site Doximity.

In emergency medicine, Texas, Florida and Minnesota reported the highest compensation, while Massachusetts, New York and California were found to have the lowest salaries in the field.

Physicians in major urban centers make nearly $1,500 less on average than those practicing in rural areas, according to Doximity.

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Areas higher in cost tend to pay doctors less for their services, the report states.

For example, an internal medicine specialist in Boston makes about $202,000 annually in average compensation, it said, but the same physician in Greenville, Mississippi makes nearly $70,000 more per year. An anesthesiologist in Massachusetts could increase his or her salary by 61 percent by relocating to Wisconsin, it said.

Pay trends in medicine “are inverse that of most industries,” Doximity CEO Jeff Tangney said in a statement. “High cost areas actually pay less.”

Doximity compiled the anonymous compensation data from more than 18,000 licensed practicing physicians across the United States, it said. The company then broke down by county the salaries of physicians in 48 specialties and created an interactive map called the Career Navigator, which launched Jan. 27 and is expected to change continuously as new data is collected. Only physicians have access to view the map.

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Doximity co-founder Nate Gross said, "The goal here is to empower doctors with transparency."

“Our hope is that this up-to-date, local market data helps physicians level the playing field with HR department in evaluating their opportunities,” Tagney said in a statement.

Urban doctors could be making less because they are more likely to be employed at an academic medical center or a hospital owned and operated by the federal government, according to information released in the report. Employees at such institutions tend to make an estimated 12 percent, or $28,000, less than those who work in private practices, it said.

Market saturation is also a huge factor in determining physician salary, according to Doximity.

When a new specialist starts practicing in a town of 100,000 people, the specialists are likely to make nearly $1,500 less per year.

Also, the health status of area residents can affect a physician's salary. Doctors who practice medicine in towns with higher obesity rates tend to make slightly more than those who practice is in healthier areas, it said.

Twitter: @SusanMorseHFN