August 2000 Bulletin

Median $300,000 earnings peak at ages 40-49

Orthopaedic surgeons earned a median net income of $300,000 in 1998, according to a new survey by the AAOS department of research and scientific affairs.

Full-time clinical practitioners among the 773 respondents reported a median 1998 net income of $306,000.

The survey found that the orthopaedists’ median net income increased with age and years in practice peaking at $344,500 in the 40 to 49 year age category with 11 to 15 years in practice. The same trend held true for full-time clinical practitioners in the surveyed group. The median income for clinicians 40 to 49 years old was $344,500. For the entire group, the median net income by age was:

When the net income data for all orthopaedists surveyed was analyzed by years in practice, the research disclosed:

General orthopaedic surgeons reported median net income of $280,000. General orthopaedic surgeons with specialty interest reported an income median of $312,000 and specialists within orthopaedic surgery reported a net income of $310,000.

When analyzing data on full-time clinical practitioners only by degree of specialization, the research department found specialists reported the highest net income, $333,000. General orthopaedic surgeons reported a net income of $290,000 and those with specialty interests, $320,000.

Solo practitioners had a median net income of $274,500. Orthopaedists in group practices reported a median net income of $325,000 and those practicing in a multi-specialty group reported a net income of $280,000.

The median net income of all orthopaedists surveyed was highest in the West North Central census region ($400,000) and lowest in the South Atlantic region ($255,500).

Orthopaedists under the age of 40 reported performing the most surgical procedures annually–a median of 350. In the 40-49 age group, the number decreased to 300. Orthopaedists in the 50-59 age group performed 250 procedures and those 60 and older, 200 procedures.

The median number orthopaedic patient visit volume per week reported was 90. A breakdown shows:

Pct. of orthopaedists

Patient visits


less than 50








more than 125


The median number patient visits a week by practice was 268. The survey found 43.8 percent of practices reported fewer than 200 patient visits; 20.6 percent, 200 to 400 patient visits; 14 percent, 400 to 600 patient visits; 7.5 percent, 601 to 800; 6.6 percent 801 to 1,000; and 7.4 percent, more than 1,000.


General orthopaedists performed a median of 260 procedures; general orthopaedic surgeons with a specialty interest, 300 procedures; and specialists within orthopaedic surgery,318 procedures.

Orthopaedists reported working a median of 60 hours a week.

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