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How Much Paid Time Off (PTO) and Vacation Doctors Get by Specialty, on Average

While salary is a big factor in job selection, it isn’t the only piece of the compensation package physicians should consider in the employment negotiations process. Along with our doctor salaries by specialty series, we also wanted to look into overall trends on other parts of compensation, such as paid time off. Below, we look into the average vacation time off for doctors, as well as other aspects of paid time off (PTO) such as CME days and sick days.

Unless otherwise noted, the data included in our analysis below was collected from mid-2023 through mid-2024 using data points from our physician salary and compensation data.

Disclaimers/Disclosures: This information is derived from our physician salary and compensation databases, but is subject to self-reporting errors and availability of relevant data points from our online communities. This information is provided for educational purposes only, and is aimed at advocating for individual physicians. It is not intended to be used for collective bargaining; please see additional disclosures and disclaimers on the physician salary data pages. Please also do your own research before making any decisions based on the information provided. We are not formal financial, legal, or tax professionals and do not provide individualized advice. You should consult these as appropriate. We highly recommend having your physician employment agreement reviewed by a physician contract review attorney to ensure you have the most up to date and relevant information for your specific situation.

Quick stats on the average paid vacation time off for doctors, as well as sick time and CME days

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How much is the average paid vacation time off (PTO) for doctors?

Before we assess the average paid vacation time off and break it down by specialty, we wanted to provide how the data was provided to help you better compare our averages to your situation.

Doctors can work different shift schedules, which can skew how paid time off is interpreted. For example, many of our 7-on/7-off hospital employees and other physicians mentioned receiving half the year off as vacation time. These numbers can greatly shift the averages, especially since these physicians typically work closer to 80 hours a week during their on weeks. These members also typically do not get any paid time off during their on weeks, instead taking vacation during their off weeks. This data has been omitted to the best of our ability, since there is no bonus compensation provided to the physician in this scenario.

Other physicians can have different shifts and schedules as well. To try to make our PTO data as relative as possible, we asked our physician members to report the number of vacation days received per year, counting 8 hrs as 1 day and 5 days as one week.

For example, if they got paid three weeks vacation, 3x5 = 15 days. This also helped us compare data for physicians who accrued PTO based on a set number of hours a pay period.

If you have a different shift schedule, you can use the hours per day/week above to help convert the average for your situation.

Finally, we noticed that some members mentioned when asked about sick time and/or CME days off that it was part of a common pool of PTO and included in their vacation time. Not all members, however, made this distinction. We removed duplicates to the best of our ability, leaving them in the calculation for vacation days.

When looking across all the data points in our salary database, the average number of vacation days reported by doctors who received some amount of vacation was 25 days, or 200 hours of paid time off a year in 2024.

The median was 22 days, or 176 hours.

We’ve noticed from our doctor salaries by specialty series that paid vacation days can vary by specialty, so we wanted to dig deeper into this overall average below. Additionally, we’d note that since some specialties get PTO significantly above the mean and bring the number for the mean up, the median numbers are likely closer to what the average physician receives in PTO.

Average paid vacation time off by specialty for doctors

When looking at paid vacation time off by specialty, we wanted to make sure we had a relevant number of data points to draw conclusions. If you don’t see your specialty listed below, please consider contributing to our physician salary and compensation database if you haven’t already for this calendar year. We will continue to update our findings as new data comes in. Note that emergency medicine is notably absent from the data, as it falls into a category similar to hospitalists, where for many employed emergency medicine physicians, time off is on the days you’re not assigned to work, rather than paid vacation time. We did not have enough data points from emergency medicine physicians who did get PTO to include them in this data.

Average PTO/paid vacation time off for doctors by specialty

Number of paid vacation days (or common pool of PTO days) doctors receive a year:

  • Anesthesiology: 35

  • Cardiology: 28

  • Endocrinology: 25

  • Family medicine: 24

  • Gastroenterology: 25

  • Geriatric medicine: 23

  • Hematology/oncology: 23

  • Hospice/palliative care: 24

  • Internal medicine: 23

  • Neurology: 23

  • OB/GYN: 23

  • Ophthalmology: 22

  • Otolaryngology (ENT): 23

  • Pathology: 27

  • Pediatrics: 22

  • Physiatry (PM&R): 23

  • Psychiatry: 24

  • Pulmonary: 25

  • Radiology: 40

  • Surgery: 26

  • Urology: 24

Overall, the number of vacation days varied generally between 22-28 with a few noticeable exceptions: radiology and anesthesiology. We don’t have many questions in our current salary database to help us dig into the specifics of why these specialties get so much above the mean, but it is likely secondary to market forces that have always had more time off in these specialties. An additional factor may be that not having a fixed population of patients in these specialties may make it easier for groups to give PTO without having to “cover” for someone’s patients. It may also be that more radiologists and anesthesiologists are partners in their practices as opposed to employed hospital physicians, and in looking at the general trends throughout our database, we have noticed that the physicians reporting the highest vacation days a year in these specialties tend to be partners or owners at their practice. We have a lot of members for these specific specialties that fall into the owner/partner category, which can make the overall average higher.

While private practice takes a lot of work, including the additional administrative aspect of running a business, we’ve seen with our salary and compensation series some of the benefits, including higher average salaries versus W2 employees, and more time off for a work/life balance outside of the office.

Learn more about private practice:

Insights into average paid sick days off for doctors

Vacation time isn’t the only aspect of paid time off (PTO) physicians receive. We wanted to look at each of these categories by specialty as well, but we had too much overlapping data with vacation and notes of common pooled PTO to draw confident conclusions off our current salary and compensation database. We look forward to looking more into these areas of doctor compensation with our next version.

We had enough data overall in our physician salary and negotiation data to check the average sick days off. If a member mentioned that their sick days off were unpaid, we removed them from the average. As members did not have to respond, we also removed responses that reported zero time off.

For doctors who reported some additional benefit of paid sick days off, the average across all specialties was around 9 days a year.

A few additional insights on sick time while looking through the database for this article:

  • Many physicians comments they didn’t know how many sick days they got as they unfortunately almost never took them

  • Others mentioned they had a set number of allowable sick days, but they were unpaid 

  • Some doctors have unlimited sick days as needed, though it varied paid versus unpaid

  • Many doctors have their sick days wrapped into a common pool with their vacation time; these physicians typically added them to the vacation averages

  • Some members reported their short-term disability allowance as their sick days (we removed these when indicated, focusing specifically on sick time)

With the observations above, we want to emphasize again the importance of looking at the specifics in the physician salary and compensation database to ensure you are comparing like scenarios and receiving relevant data to your particular situation.

Average paid CME days off for doctors

Similar to sick days, many physicians reported their CME days as part of a common pool. In those instances, we removed their reference so not as to duplicate them with the average vacation time for doctors reported above.

Some physicians mentioned they had unlimited CME days and/or that they had CME days available, but they were unpaid time off.

For doctors who reported some additional benefit of paid CME days off, the average across all specialties was around 6 days a year.

Explore our CME resources and perks for physicians page for ideas on how to use your CME days and stipends.


Looking at the average number of vacation days, sick time, and CME days off in compensation packages for physicians, we get an average of around 40 potential paid days off a year. (While some members mentioned unused time rolled over from year to year, this isn’t always the case for unused time.) This can be a significant factor to a doctor’s overall compensation package on top of the proposed salary you reach during your physician contract negotiations.

Make sure to ask about these potential benefits, including some of the distinctions mentioned above, such as if:

  • It’s paid time off or time allowed off but unpaid

  • PTO increases with the number of years you’ve worked for the company

  • Unused time off carries over or if it’s a use-or-lose system

  • It’s one common PTO pool or if vacation time is separate from CME days and sick time

  • If holidays taken are included in vacation or separate (paid or unpaid) days off

Additional Salary and Compensation Resources for Doctors

Explore our related articles and resources on doctor compensation and salaries: 

If you haven’t recently, please take a few minutes to contribute! The data provided is used only for the purpose of our database to help physicians like yourself negotiate better compensation by helping provide salary transparency with relevant data. The data is completely anonymous and is only available to members of our Physician Side Gigs Facebook group. Contribution links can be found on our compensation data for physicians page. Our databases are completely free for our Physician Side Gigs members to view.

If you need guidance on negotiating your next contract for the best possible deal, check out:

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