No recession in starting salaries for new cardiologists or recruiting bonuses

[Updated]– They may not be at the level of a Samin Sharma or Jeff Moses, but newly minted cardiologists probably won’t have to worry about the recession, according to a survey of new physician salaries by the Medical Group Management Association.

The median starting salary for invasive cardiologists in 2008 was $350,000, according to the survey. This represented a 1.41% decline from the 2007 salary of $355,000.

Noninvasive cardiologists started at $400,000 in 2008, compared to $350,000 in the prior year. This 14.29% increase put noninvasive cardiologists in the list of top 5 specialties with the biggest increase in salary between 2007 and 2008.

Top starting salary was $605,000 for neurosurgeons, followed by nuclear medicine radiologists, thoracic surgeons, cardiologists, and orthopedic surgeons.

At $132,000,  pediatricians were at the bottom of the list. They were followed by FPs, geriatricians, urgent care, IMs, and IDs.

Update: The Wall Street Journal Health Blog just posted an item on bonuses offered to physicians during recruitment. You can download the Merritt Hawkins & Associated 2009 Review of Physician and CRNA Recruiting Incentives here. But here’s the bottom line:

Cardiologists were among the top 5 specialties in growth in number of search assignments from 2007/08 to 2008/09. Here are the top 5 and their growth rate:

  • General surgery: 88%
  • Pulmonology: 73%
  • Cardiology: 49%
  • Dermatology: 29%
  • Internal Medicine: 25%

And here’s the actual data for cardiologists. The three figures for each year are the low, average, and high figures. Get ready to call your moving company:
Year            Low              Average     High
2008/09     $180,000     $419,000     $880,000
2007/08     $250,000     $392,000     $1,000,000
2006/07     $250,000     $391,000     $500,000
2005/06     $175,000     $342,000     $500,000


  1. I did not read the source article that you reference, but I can tell you quite certainly that this information you are reporting is false or misrepresented. All 4 cardiologists (including myself) whose salaries I can confirm starting from 2006-2008 were under $250K. This group includes a 2 private practitioners and 2 hospital based cardiologists. Also, I interviewed at several hospitals and none of them offered $250K to start. Of course, salaries vary by region and many other factors, but at the very least, your lows are incorrect (by a wide margin).

  2. Thad F. Waites says

    What is the current low, average, and high salaries for major league baseball players? And, what is their low, average, and high age? Is there a shortage of them? I know they contribute to the well-being of the nation. (I love baseball). But, do they save lives?

  3. Thad, Of course baseball players don’t save lives. But here’s a thought for you to consider: presumably you feel that baseball players are wildly overpaid. Therefore, because of that injustice, you feel it is inappropriate to criticize the salaries of cardiologists. But certainly you wouldn’t argue that one wrong justifies another wrong?

  4. Hi Larry, I don’t think Thad was trying to justify one wrong with another. But perhaps trying to say that everything should be put into context. Besides professional athletics, do you know of any other non-medical profession that involves so many difficult years of hard work, training and sacrifice to become a specialist? Why should the pay of cardiologists be lesser than that of high earning real estate agents or unscrupulous lawyers or CEOs or dentists??!! I’m not defending the unethical practices of many physicians but I don’t think it’s fair to question the compensation of physicians when other lesser educated and trained ‘professionals’ make so much more.


  1. […] No recession in starting salaries for new cardiologists or recruiting bonuses (June 19, 2009) […]

  2. […] No recession in starting salaries for new cardiologists or recruiting bonuses […]

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