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How Much Do Doctors Make at VA Hospitals?

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The pay rate for doctors who work at VA hospitals throughout the country is set through the Department of Veterans Affairs. In recent years, that salary has grown substantially because the VA was losing doctors to more lucrative private practices. Though in many parts of the country, the New York Times reports, there is still a shortage of primary care physicians, the average annual salary has almost doubled from that of 2004.

Experience Pays

Experience determines how much a doctor makes at a VA hospital. Pay scales separate into four tiers. The longer you work in the hospital, the higher your tier level will be. For instance, a primary care physician at tier one earns a minimum of $96,539 annually while a tier four primary doctor takes home at least $130,000, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. These are base pay rates and are usually supplemented with various government bonuses and other payments. Glassdoor reports the average salarym including bonuses, for VA physicians was $184,378, as of 2014.


Pay scales for doctors in VA hospitals are determined by the physician’s specialty. Factors used to determine pay include retention, recruitment and average national salary. At the lowest end of the pay scale are allergists, endocrinologists, internists, neurologists, doctors of infectious diseases and geriatrics. For tier one doctors, you’ll earn a minimum of $96,539 and a maximum of $195,000 per year, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Tier four doctors take home a minimum of $130,000 and a maximum of $245,000, at time of publication.


The maximum earnings for certain physicians increase based on the availability of their clinical specialties. For instance, a tier one pathologist or emergency medicine doctor at a VA hospital earns a maximum of $220,000. A tier one cardiologist or dermatologist can make a maximum of $265,000 per year. Surgeons at a tier one level are capped at $295,000 per year.


Chief of staff and chief consultants working at a VA hospital can earn anywhere from $140,000 to $275,000 annually, at time of publication. Additional positions covered under this pay scale include program managers, principal deputy, deputy and chief medical officer.


Heather Topham Wood is a seasoned writer whose work has appeared in numerous publications, including USA Today, Gadgetell, Feel Rich and Step in Style. Heather is a published novelist with six Amazon bestsellers and a contract through Crescent Moon Press. She holds a bachelor's degree in English from TCNJ.

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