Doctors in Boston, Prestigious Medical Community, Near Bottom of US Pay Scale

Boston is known for many things, and one of its most prominent assets is its high number of top-notch colleges and universities. Among them are several well-respected medical schools that produce thousands of physicians who go on to work in the city's thriving hospital industry.

Given these circumstances, and if you didn't give it much thought, you might simply reason that Boston physicians are highly-qualified and likely among the best paid in the nation.

And if you thought that, you'd be wrong.

Among the top 50 U.S. metropolitan areas, the Boston metro area produced the ninth-lowest average pay for physicians last year. That's according to a recently salary analysis produced by a national physicians network and reported by the Boston Globe.

"Doximity, a[n] online network of medical professionals," the newspaper wrote, "studied the pay of 65,000 full-time physicians across the country in its second annual compensation report," from which the Boston figures emerged. The report also found that "female doctors, in Boston and across the country, continue to be paid significantly less than men."

It's safe to say that when it comes to compensation, no one is going to feel sorry for doctors. But the analysis provides a look into Boston's economic environment for physicians, one which runs counter to what many believe.

Boston-area doctors averaged just over $316,000 annually, or nearly $86,000 less than physicians in Charlotte, N.C., the best paid in America, who averaged roughly $402,000 per year. (The metropolitan areas with the highest-paid and lowest-paid doctors are listed below.)

This New England metro area is home to several prestigious medical schools, a group that includes Tufts University School of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston University School of Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School and the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. 

As for undergraduate institutions, Boston also has Northeastern University, Boston College, Brandeis University and MIT, as well as at least 17 other four-year colleges. And since it's a vibrant city catering to young adults, many medical school graduates who have already settled there target nearby Boston hospitals to make their living. This creates a significant supply of doctors, which ultimately suppresses salaries.

“Boston is an extreme example of having a great density of elite training institutions," says Dr. Amit Phull, Doximity’s medical director, as quoted by the newspaper. "You have this supply of extremely qualified physicians. It tips the balance to being able to pay them less.”

On its website, Doximity, which has one million members, bills itself as "the largest community of healthcare professionals in the country – with over 70% of US doctors and 45% of all NPs [nurse practioners] and physician assistants as verified members." And roughly 10 percent of the 675,000 member doctors took part in the salary survey.

Female physicians in the Boston area were paid just over $259,000 annually, while those in Milwaukee, the highest-paying city for female doctors, earned nearly $314,000.

As for the gender pay-differential within Boston, females were paid roughly $57,000 less than their male colleagues. While nationwide, according to a Doximity news release, the "gender gap for physicians increased as female doctors earned 27.7 percent less ($105,000) than their male counterparts." 

For 2017, cities with the lowest average compensation

  • Durham, NC — $282,035
  • Ann Arbor, MI — $302,692
  • Baltimore — $304,002
  • New Haven, CT— $308,262
  • Rochester, NY — $312,503
  • Boston — $316,630 (9th lowest)

For 2017, top 5 cities with the highest average compensation

  • Charlotte — $402,273
  • Milwaukee — $398,431
  • Jacksonville, FL — $379,820
  • Indianapolis — $378,011
  • San Jose, CA — $376,585