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The Average Salary of a First Year Medical Doctor & a Doctor of Osteopathy

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Physicians in the United States all complete college, medical school and residency, but the medical schools can be in conventional medicine or in osteopathic medicine. Whether an M.D. or a D.O., all physicians are licensed in the same way and perform similar tasks. Osteopaths are taught with a focus on the patient in a holistic sense, instead of a focus on a medical condition or disease. Salaries in medicine, whatever the degree, are based on the physician’s specialty.

Practicing the Basics

Most D.O.s go into primary care specialties such as family practice, internal medicine, pediatrics and obstetrics, although about one-third go into other specialties, according to the American Osteopathic Association. Starting salaries are salaries for the first year after a physician completes her residency and -- in most cases -- a fellowship. Short White Coats, a website that offers information to medical students and new physicians, reports that the median starting salary for family physicians and internists was $160,000 in 2012. Pediatricians started at $135,000 and obstetrician-gynecologists earned $207,500 in the first year. The median salary for anesthesiologists was $225,000 and for emergency medicine specialists $241,920. Dermatologists earned $280,000. Psychiatrists earned $180,000, general surgeons made $282,500 and urologists earned $300,000. Orthopedic surgeons took home the highest starting salaries, at $412,500.

Differences in Data

Profiles Database, a website that provides services to newly graduated physicians and employers, also collected data on median starting salaries for 2011 to 2012. In the primary care arena, Profiles Database reports family physicians earned a starting salary of $138,000. Internists started at a median salary of $145,000, while pediatricians earned $162,000 and obstetrician-gynecologists earned $200,000. In other specialties, psychiatrists made $165,000, general surgeons earned $225,000 and dermatologists made $234,000. Anesthesiologists had starting salaries of $265,000, while urologists earned $250,000 and orthopedic surgeons made $315,000.

Primary Care Subspecialties

Some primary care subspecialties have higher starting salaries, according to Profiles Database. Family medicine doctors who included obstetrics in their practice earned $142,000. Gynecological oncology, a subspecialty of obstetrics and gynecology, provided a starting salary of $300,000. With the exception of pediatric pulmonary disease, at a starting salary of $162,000, all pediatric subspecialties had higher median starting points than general pediatrics. Pediatric cardiologists earned $189,000, pediatricians who specialized in intensive care made $195,000, and neonatologists, who take care of critically ill newborns, earned $196,000. Pediatric surgeons had the highest starting salaries, at $295,000.

Surgery is a Money Maker

Although only about one in three osteopaths go into specialties such as surgery, according to the AOA, starting salaries in the surgical subspecialties tend to be higher than for many other specialties, according to Profiles Database. The median starting salary for plastic surgeons in 2011 to 2012 was $273,000, while vascular surgeons earned $259,400. Subspecialists in colon and rectal surgery took home $290,000, cardio thoracic surgeons earned $360,000 and neurological surgeons made $395,000. Orthopedic surgeons who specialized in spinal surgery topped the list, with a median starting salary of $465,000.


Beth Greenwood is an RN and has been a writer since 2010. She specializes in medical and health topics, as well as career articles about health care professions. Greenwood holds an Associate of Science in nursing from Shasta College.

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