Jamie JohnsonBy Jamie Johnson, WCI Contributor

Many healthcare workers struggled during the pandemic, but pulmonologists were uniquely affected by COVID-19. Due to their specialty, pulmonologists often dealt with heavy workloads without seeing any change in their annual compensation. Fortunately, many physicians have seen their compensation rise since the height of the pandemic. Medscape conducted a survey of 10,000 physicians across 29 different specialties to take a deeper like how compensation and if physicians think they're paid fairly. 

The 2023 survey examined how much doctors make across different specialties and whether their income rose or fell over the last year. It also looked at the percentage of doctors who would choose their same specialty—or medicine in general—if they had it to do over again. 


Pulmonologist Average Salary


pulmonologists average salary

Pulmonologists earn a high salary, and the average pulmonologist earned $378,000 last year, a bump up from $353,000 in the previous year's survey. This income falls right in the middle when compared to other specialties. However, this is just an average, and your exact salary may be higher or lower depending on your location, type of employment, and experience.

Still, since the 2015 Medscape report, the average income of a pulmonologist has risen by 28%.


Is Pulmonologists’ Income Rising?


pulmonologists income rising

Pulmonologists saw their income rise 7% over the last year (after a 6% increase the previous year), and that puts them above average when compared to other doctors. Oncology and gastroenterology saw the biggest salary increases, while a number of specialties—including ophthalmology, emergency medicine, and nephrology—actually saw decreases in their average incomes. 

Inflation also continued to rise in 2022, briefly reaching as high as 9%, affecting all physicians’ purchasing power. So, these salary increases aren’t as substantial as they might appear on the surface.


Do Pulmonologists Feel Fairly Compensated?


pulmonologist fairly paid

Receiving a high salary and feeling adequately compensated are two different things. Only 48% of pulmonologists think they are fairly compensated, a huge drop from the 61% in the prior survey. In 2022, they were near the top of the chart when compared to other specialties. Now, they're much closer to the bottom. 

Psychiatry, dermatology, and public health and prevention are specialties where physicians feel the most adequately paid for their work. Infectious diseases, at 35%, had, by far, the lowest percentage who felt they were fairly compensated.  


Are Pulmonologists Happy With Their Work?

pulmonologist average income

The majority of pulmonologists are happy with their jobs, and 76% would choose their specialty again if given the chance. And even given the challenges they faced during the pandemic, 71% of pulmonologists would choose a career in medicine all over again (though that's down from 79% in the previous year). 

Roughly 29% of pulmonologists said that being good at what they do is the most rewarding aspect of their jobs. Over 20% said the relationship they built with their patients was the best part, and 17% appreciate knowing they’re making the world a better place.

Most pulmonologists find the number of rules and regulations they have to deal with to be the most difficult aspect of the job. The long working hours and difficulty dealing with insurers was another significant hurdle. 


Other Sources

Understanding the average salary of physicians in your specialty is a good way to ensure you’re getting paid what you’re worth. We relied heavily on the Medscape data for this article, but there are many other sources you can reference. 

  • AAMC: $297,000 (this survey only includes academics)
  • Doximity: $400,650
  • Merritt Hawkins: $385,000


Increasing Your Physician Income

One of the most important things that you can do to earn more for your work is to negotiate your pay and the terms of your contract. Many doctors wind up with bad contracts that leave them improperly compensated while facing high costs and non-compete agreements that restrict their future opportunities.

If you’re negotiating a new contract, The White Coat Investor has a list of vetted attorneys and law firms to work with to make sure you get a good deal.

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