Archive for the ‘physician salary’ Category

Why We Become Doctors-It’s Not the Money!

October 18, 2018

Dr. Neil Baum

Professor of Clinical Urology

Tulane Medical School

I know you’ve heard it many times before, doctors are rich and that’s why they have become doctors.  Dr. Kevin Pezzi has elegantly and graphically demonstrated that we don’t primarily become physicians because of the monetary reward.

There are jobs that are currently available that provide as much or even more income than that achieved by physicians with far fewer years spent in school and training required to become a physician. Who would think that a UPS driver right out of high school could earn more than a doctor?

The January 26, 2004 edition of U.S. News & World Report said that UPS drivers earn $60,000 per year. The average physician income is usually quoted as being $160,000 to $200,000 per year so it may seem preposterous to claim that UPS drivers can earn more than doctors. Just wait.

A UPS driver can go to work immediately after high school with no additional education required. In contrast, a would-be doctor requires 8-12 years of education for which he is paid nothing but actually incurs ~$300,000 in debt and loans after post-graduate training to pay back with interest over 20-30 years after entering practice.  As a result, UPS drivers are being paid while those who aspire to become doctors are spending thousands of dollars for the privilege of pursuing their dream.

Let’s analyze how this affects a physician’s net income. Most physicians will not appreciate any appreciable income until at least 8 years after graduating from high school.  Let’s look at total net income for physicians at year 8 (red arrow), once they graduate from medical school with an average debt of around $100,000.

It takes approximately 18 years (blue arrow) for a doctor to earn the same amount as a UPS driver working full-time.

Now check out the green arrow which shows that it takes about 27 years for a doctor to approximately equal the lifetime earnings of a UPS driver if the UPS driver worked the same 70+ hours a week which is the time most physicians work\week and the UPS driver received time and half for all hours worked after 40 hours.

In addition, to a respectable salary for the UPS driver, I am sure he never was called during the middle of the night because a package wasn’t delivered on time, nor did he\she have to go to the truck dispatch location to repair a malfunctioning vehicle. Requests and interruptions are part and parcel what every physician is confronted on a regular basis.

UPS drivers don’t have to go home after work and read journals or prepare for recertification exams every few years.  This time is necessary for every physician to stay current with all the progress and changes that are taking place in medicine.  All of this after-work hours is uncompensated time resulting in 60-80 hours of time dedicated to the practice of medicine.

Therefore, let no one tell us that we became doctors to earn lots of money.  Most of us became doctors in order to help others.  Unfortunately, an abundance of paperwork, adapting to new technologies such as EMRs, the risk of litigation, and a sacrifice of time with family and friends have tarnished the attraction of a medical career.  (Yet, there are a record number of applicants to American medical schools each year) I think if we just drop back and take a look at what we do on a daily basis and enjoy the gratitude and appreciation of most of our patients, we will be delighted and perhaps content with our decision to pursue a healthcare career.