Southern internists not just whistlin’ Dixie

Pay may depend on location

Where a physician practices plays a major role in how much he or she is paid, according to information collected by the Englewood, CO-based Medical Group Management Association. For instance, internists in the South are generally better paid than their colleagues in other parts of the country. Median 1999 income for Southern internists was $167,513, compared to $154,162 in the North, $148,182 in the West, and $138,506 in the East.

Median compensation levels for primary care physicians and specialists also tend to be higher in the South. In 1999, southern primary care physicians earned a median income of $153,096, compared to $142,708 for primary care physicians in the East, $144,006 for those in the Midwest, and $137,970 in the West.

Specialists practicing in the South earned a median of $326,144, compared to $233,356 in the East, $278,392 in the Midwest, and $215,879 in the West.

Why the big difference in regional pay? Most experts attribute it to the fact managed care penetration is not as extensive in Southern states, while there is relatively less competition among groups for patients.