Radiologists’ $401,000 starting salary lands specialty in the top 5

Radiologists’ $401,000 starting salary places imaging among the top-five highest paid physician specialties, according to a new report published Monday.

Interventional cardiology leads the way at $611,000 followed by orthopedic surgery ($546,000) and gastroenterology ($453,000). Physician search firm Merritt Hawkins has seen demand for imaging grow as safety conditions and the economy improve, and radiologist have benefitted.

“Whether it is a diagnosis or a procedure, little happens in healthcare without an image,” the group said in its 2021 Review of Physician and Advanced Practitioner Recruiting Incentives.

Radiology also landed in the top-three most requested searches by specialty, behind only family medicine and nurse practitioners at No. 1. Merritt Hawkins said this is the first time in the report’s 27-year history that NPs have topped the list, supplanting family medicine, which held first place the last 14 years.

“COVID-19 and other forces are changing the dynamics of physician and advanced practitioner recruiting,” President Tom Florence said in a statement. “NPs are coming into their own in a market that puts a premium on easy access to care and cost containment.”

Radiologist salaries ranged from a low of $150,000 to as high as $825,000. The $401,000 average — which does not include productivity bonuses or benefits — is a 3% drop from $423,000 tallied in the 2019-2029 report. Separated by geography, rads in the West tallied the highest take-home total at $490,000, while the Midwest/Great Plains fell last at $375,000. And the specialty earned an average signing bonus of more than $23,000.

The review is based on extrapolations of a representative sample of nearly 2,500 ongoing or concluded search engagements during the 12 months that concluded March 31.

Marty Stempniak

Marty Stempniak has covered healthcare since 2012, with his byline appearing in the American Hospital Association's member magazine, Modern Healthcare and McKnight's. Prior to that, he wrote about village government and local business for his hometown newspaper in Oak Park, Illinois. He won a Peter Lisagor and Gold EXCEL awards in 2017 for his coverage of the opioid epidemic. 

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