Declining income and hours of paperwork likely are among the drivers of physician dissatisfaction with medicine. Just 54 percent of all physicians would chose medicine again as a career, a 15 percent drop from 2011, according to a physician compensation survey from Medscape. Further, only 25 percent would choose the same practice setting, compared with 50 percent a year ago.

While the top-earning specialties in 2012 were the same as in 2011, incomes declined in general. Radiologists and orthopedic surgeons each earned a mean income of $315,000, a 10 percent decline since 2010. Cardiologists earned $314,000 (a 3 percent decline), and anesthesiologists earned $309,000, a 5 percent decline).

The lowest earning specialties saw modest increases: pediatrics ($156,000, a 5 percent increase), family medicine ($158,000, a 2 percent increase) and internal medicine ($165,000, a 2 percent increase).

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