Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Big Fat Question of Money

In my post on Monday, I opened up the can of worms that everybody seems to be uncomfortable with. (Some more so than others.) That is, how much you can earn as a physician?

As I alluded to in that previous post, I personally don’t have a problem with the typical earning levels that doctors enjoy. And it’s not because I hope to be a doctor one day. I felt that way long before I decided to pursue a career in medicine.

In fact, for the record, I don’t have a problem with any person earning what they’re worth. You have to get paid. It’s a fact of life. You have to eat and food costs money. You have to think about what you can provide for your family.

There is nothing noble about working for peanuts.

What I do have a problem with are the people who get paid for doing nothing. And I don’t just mean people on welfare. I’m actually referring to people with do-nothing jobs, some of whom I’ve worked for in the past. But I digress…

So just how much do the various specialties make on average? Well, it just so happens the Bureau of Labor Statistics was kind enough to compile some data on that for us.

Table 2. Median compensation for physicians, 2005
Specialty One year Two years
Anesthesiology $259,948 $321,686
Surgery: General 228,839 282,504
Obstetrics/gynecology: General 203,270 247,348
Psychiatry: General 173,922 180,000
Internal medicine: General 141,912 166,420
Pediatrics: General 132,953 161,331
Family practice (w/o obstetrics) 137,119 156,010

Source: Medical Group Management Association, Physician Compensation and Production Report, 2005.

The above chart isn’t going to make your mind up for you, but it should help you in evaluating which areas to consider. I know I found it interesting and I’ll probably opt for one of the specialties in the lower income brackets. It won’t be because I wouldn’t like to earn the big bucks.

No one goes into any career or business with the attitude; I want to make as little money as possible. Let’s face it, there has to be easier ways to make money than spending 11 years of your life slogging through the medical education process.

If money is your only motivation, you would be wise to forget about medicine and instead consider becoming an investment banker or a stock broker or any of a dozen other professions that don’t require you to sacrifice a major portion of this short life we’re given just to get your foot in the door.


Reference: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition, Physicians and Surgeons.

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