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Physician/Surgeon Overview - Preparation - Specialty Areas -
Day In The Life - Earnings - Employment - Career Path Forecast - Professional Organizations - Overview PowerPoint - Overview Podcast

Physicians and surgeons hold about 661,400  jobs in the United States; approximately 12 percent were self-employed.

About 53 percent of wage–and-salary physicians and surgeons worked in offices of physicians, and 19 percent were employed by hospitals. Others practiced in Federal, State, and local governments, educational services, and outpatient care centers.

According to 2007 data from the American Medical Association (AMA), 32 percent of physicians in patient care were in primary care, but not in a subspecialty of primary care.

Percent distribution of active physicians in patient care by specialty, 2007
Specialty Percent
Internal medicine 20.1
Family medicine/general practice 12.4
Pediatrics 9.6
Obstetrics and gynecology 5.6
Anesthesiology 5.5
Psychiatry 5.2
General Surgery 5.0
Emergency Medicine 4.1
  SOURCE: American Medical Association, 2009 Physician Characteristic and Distribution in the US.

A growing number of physicians are partners or wage-and-salary employees of group practices. Organized as clinics or as associations of physicians, medical groups can more easily afford expensive medical equipment, can share support staff, and benefit from other business advantages.

According to the AMA, the New England and Middle Atlantic States have the highest ratios of physicians to population; the South Central and Mountain States have the lowest. Physicians tend to locate in urban areas, close to hospitals and education centers. AMA data showed that in 2007, about 75 percent of physicians in patient care were located in metropolitan areas while the remaining 25 percent were located in rural areas.

Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics and the American Medical Association.

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