Orthopaedic surgeons focus on injuries and illnesses of the joints, bones, muscles and other parts of the musculoskeletal system. If you need a knee replacement or surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff, you'll see an orthopaedic surgeon. According to a salary survey conducted by Medscape in 2011, orthopaedic surgeon is one of the top two highest-paid medical occupations along with radiologist. An ageing, active population creates a demand for orthopaedic surgeons' services.
Medscape's 2011 survey found that orthopaedic surgeons had a median annual income of £227,500 from salary, bonuses and profit-sharing arrangements. About 20 per cent of the 455,000 orthopaedic surgeons who responded to the survey earn more than £325,000 a year. The National Institute of Health's Office of Science Education's 2008 report showed a salary range from £242,060 to £333,125.
Surgeons who specialise have the potential to earn more than generalists. Orthopaedic surgeons can specialise in sports medicine, spine surgery or paediatrics, for example. Partners in group practices can earn shares of the profits from the practice as a whole in addition to their salaries. Physicians who serve as expert witnesses or who speak to groups can command additional money for these services.
Men vs. Women
Women fill much fewer positions as orthopaedic surgeons. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons reported that, as of Octoberm 2007, only about 7 per cent of orthopaedic surgery residents were women. In the Medscape survey, female orthopaedic surgeons reported a median salary of £179,400 annually, while their male counterparts had median earnings of £235,300. Medscape speculates this is because women tend to work fewer hours and spend more time with family.
Orthopaedic surgeons in the north central United States earn the most, on average, with a median income of £349,375 per year. Orthopaedic surgeons in the West have the lowest median income, at £162,500. Mid-Atlantic ortho doctors reported median annual earnings of £250,573, those in the Northwest reported a median of £24,700 a year, while doctors in the Northeast earned a median income of £235,625. Doctors in south central states reported £235,625, those in the Southwest reported £221,650 annually and those in the Southeast brought in a median salary of £195,000.