I respect ICU physicians a lot. They are the smartest people I’ve ever met. And they have to be.
Critically ill patients require a higher level of continuous care and intense treatment methods including medications that speed up or slow down your heart.
Often times, ICU physicians train in both critical care and pulmonology. The critical care portion of their practice is in the hospital whereas the pulmonology part may require seeing patients in a clinic a few times per week. Pulmonology is the study of the lungs, so picture patients with chronic obstructive lung disease, restrictive lung disease, and asthma. It is also a procedural field with bronchoscopies, central lines, and the like.
Just how much do ICU doctors make?
A starting ICU/pulmonologist can make $215,000 dollars out of fellowship. With experience, these physicians can earn much more.
Indeed, the highest reporting salary is $417,000. Majority of the physicians make within a range of $200K to $300K.
Critical care / pulmonologist physicians require 3 years of fellowship training in addition to their internal medicine training. That is a total of 6 years of post-graduate medical education.
Currently, there are 136 ICU fellowship programs offering 417 spots. Last year, nearly half of all those who matched into an ICU program were either US IMG’s or FMG’s. That’s an impressive success rate for foreign graduates!
For physicians that take care of patients at the most critical point in their lives, I’m a little surprised the reported salary averages were less than other specialists, like an Anesthesiologist. Nevertheless, the salary is still very good.
It’s an intense job but you truly make a significant difference. If you enjoy treating critical patients, learning all aspects of the lung, and bedside procedures, this may be the field for you.
Salary.com, Physician – Critical Care Physician Salary
Allied Physicians – Physician Salary Survey
NRMP – Fellowship Statistics
Wikipedia – Bronchoscopy
One should note that pulmonology and critical care medicine are separate certifications and training pathways that are typically combined for internists within the ABIM pathway. One can become certified in intensive care after a CCM fellowship and a residency in anesthesia, internal medicine, pediatrics, or surgery – all without any additional certification or training in pulmonology per se.