Seriously? Doctors say they're underpaid
May 1st, 2012
10:55 AM ET

Seriously? Doctors say they're underpaid

Anthony Youn, M.D., is a plastic surgeon in metro Detroit. He is the author of “In Stitches,” a humorous memoir about growing up Asian American and becoming a doctor.

Full disclosure: I have no complaints about how much I make.

But many other physicians are not as satisfied - a recent study by Medscape revealed that 49% of doctors believe they're not fairly compensated. Of primary care physicians, this percentage increases to 54%.

It’s no myth that doctors are some of the highest paid professionals in the country. So why are they complaining?

It’s likely because of situations like Dr. Peterson’s.

Dr. Peterson is a plastic surgeon whom I worked with during my residency. A kind, competent physician, his new, fledgling practice consisted of reconstructive surgery. He treated women with breast cancer, paraplegics with pressure sores, and burn patients.

I was the on-call plastic surgery resident one night when a 42-year-old man - let’s call him Dave - was brought into the hospital at 3 a.m. He had fallen off a roof while intoxicated. Dave broke several bones in his face and shattered his lower leg.

I stumbled out of bed and met Dr. Peterson in the ER, where we spent the next three hours assessing Dave’s injuries and repairing his lacerations. Five days later Dr. Peterson and I performed an eight-hour operation, reconstructing his broken facial bones and performing a muscle transfer to help heal his fractured legs. For the next two months, we visited Dave in the hospital each and every day, changing his bandages and making sure he healed properly.

Not once did Dave thank Dr. Peterson for his care.

Instead, Dave took more than $3,000 from him.

Close scrutiny

Quite possibly no other occupation in the country receives such attention regarding the income its members receive. And that’s not a new trend - more than 70% of respondents of a survey published in the 1985 American Journal of Public Health believed doctors were overpaid.

The Medscape survey found the average physician compensation now ranges from a high of $315,000 for orthopedic surgeons to a low of $156,000 for pediatricians. Sounds pretty good right?

Consider that physicians must complete at least four years of college, four years of medical school, and between three to eight years of residency training prior to becoming a real, practicing doctor. Many physicians don’t start earning “doctor-level” salaries until they are well into their 30s.

A 2009 survey by U.S. News found the typical medical student graduated with $141,132 in debt. The graduates of some schools averaged more than $200,000 in loans.
So how do doctors’ salaries compare with other well-paying professions?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average computer and information system manager earns $125,660 per year. The average lawyer makes $130,490 per year. Orthodontists take home $204,670. The New York Times recently reported the average base pay for managing directors at Morgan Stanley is $400,000. At Goldman Sachs, it’s $600,000. The average salary of an NFL player is $1.9 million. NBA players average $5.15 million per year.

Just for putting a ball in a hoop.

When you consider these numbers, the thought of pediatricians making $156,000 a year doesn’t seem unreasonable. They often see 50 patients per day, answer our calls at all hours, and keep our kids healthy.

What about critical care physicians? They average $240,000 a year, but are responsible for keeping the sickest of us alive. One-quarter of critical care physicians spend more than 65 hours per week with their patients, not including time doing paperwork.

Unlike most other professions, there is a ceiling to what most doctors can earn. Physician compensation is tightly controlled by the government and insurance companies. Medicine is also the only profession where its members are required to sometimes work for free.

No return on investment

Which brings us back to Dave.

Three months later, I accompanied Dr. Peterson in his clinic to see Dave for a follow-up appointment. Dr. Peterson seemed a bit distracted. At the end of the visit I found out why.

“I’m glad you’re doing so well, Dave,” said Dr. Peterson.

“Yeah, I’m really happy with how things have turned out,” he replied.

“So Dave, this is a little awkward for me, but I need to ask you something. Two weeks ago your insurance company sent you a check for $3,200 to forward to me for all my surgical and office fees.”

“Yeah, so?”

“Well, um,” Dr. Peterson stuttered. “We never received it from you.”

“No, you didn’t. I cashed it and spent it.”

“Dave, why would you do that?”

“I figured you’re a rich doctor. I need the money more than you.”

What do you think? Are doctors being underpaid? Tell us in the comments below.

soundoff (15,183 Responses)
  1. Shades of grey

    Reading these posts make me both want to laugh and cry, all at the same time. It's amusing (and sad) to me that so many people on this blog are saying that ALL doctors are a certain way (not team players, in it for the money, don't care). What a short-sighted way of approaching the world. This type of approach is frankly ignorant and tunnel-visioned. We all know that bad and good doctors exist. You get the extremes and you get all of those in between. I know doctors who are truly team-players and others who aren't, those who are selfish and those who are selfless. I also know good and bad nurses, good social workers and bad social workers. I work in a hospital as part of an allied health team so I see it every day. The fact that so many people think in such a black and white way is kind of scary. It is too simplistic to group thousands of professionals in the same box. But, I gather, that for some people, it's "easier" for them to categorize people into "all bad or all good". Accepting shades of grey might be a little too advanced or sophisticated for them.

    May 4, 2012 at 12:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Brit

      Very well put. I agree wholeheartedly. You take take a group of people that includes tens or maybe hundreds of thousands of people and lumps them all into a category of "greedy" or "lazy" or what have you. It tends to hint at lazy thinking.

      May 27, 2012 at 22:09 | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      II live in a small town where over 50% of the public school children qualify for free or reduced cost lunches. Yet the doctors who serve our community are able to live in the biggest houses, drive the most expensive cars and send their kids to private schools. Do I resent this? No! But it does beg the question of how doctor's pay contributes to the fact that health care is far more expensive in the US than in other industrialized countries even though care is no better. I think it is wrong that doctor's should be hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt when they begin practice. And the way malpractice awards are granted should be changed so that only doctors whose performance does not meet professional standards are penalized. If these two issues were addressed perhaps doctors could accept lower pay and, at the same time, be less stressed and offer better care.

      August 23, 2012 at 09:02 | Report abuse |
    • Ridics199

      Hey Bill,
      I would be paid the same or more if I went to Canada which is a socialized system so that should tell you that it is not the physician pay that is causing the rise in healthcare cost. Also look at the increase rate of physician salaries since the 80's and compare it to the healthcare cost in general....physician pay has barely budged

      August 23, 2012 at 20:31 | Report abuse |
    • Liz

      I recently stumbled upon this article and found these comments to be fascinating. There is no question that the healthcare costs in this country far surpass those in otherwise comparable countries worldwide, however it is a complete misconception that this is due to the salary of our physicians. According to multiple sources I have read (and what I have been taught in my graduate schooling) healthcare worker's salaries amount to roughly 10% of our countries total health care costs. In my opinion, the true culprit of healthcare spending is the healthcare system's fear of being sued. Doctors regularly order tests that they may not actually believe is necessary as reassurance to the patient and (for lack of a better term) to save their own ass. It is the tests-CT scans, MRIs, biopsy's, CBCs, UA, etc-that truly snowball the cost of medical care and also explains why the money we spend does not actually relate to how proficient and successful our healthcare system is. That being said, if you are willing to give up all these extra measures in order to actually cut medical costs, then be my guest. Personally, I will take all the unnecessary extra tests my doctors will give me because when it comes to my health, I do not want to budget.

      August 24, 2012 at 20:06 | Report abuse |
  2. Student Doc

    We're forgetting about malpractice!

    Interesting article, but barely touches on what a physician's salary really means, and where it goes.

    Disclaimer: I'm graduating medical school this month to begin residency. I think doctor's pay is fair, but they are certainly not overpaid. If I was interested in money, I would have gone into business like many of my peers who are earning 6 figures, while I am in 6 digits of debt. I personally owe $150,000.

    I'm going to be an Ob/Gyn, so malpractice is certainly important. Current figures for my state, AVERAGE cost of Malpractice Insurance each year from 2009:

    Internal Medicine $12,000-15,000
    General Surgery $44,000-57,000
    Obstetrics & Gynecology $111,000-117,000

    As a resident, I will make $50-55,000/year. At 80 hours/week, this is about 10-12$/hour. I made more serving tables in my teens. This will last 4 or 8 years, depending on whether I specialize. During this time, I will not be able to keep up with my interest due on my loans, and will still owe >$150,000 when I am in my mid-30s and starting a family.

    When I finish residency/fellowship after 4-8 years of 65 to 80-hour work weeks, I will finally make an attending salary ($180-220,000), but will owe malpractice ($110,000-120,000). That's a big number to subtract out of pay.

    So, no, doctors do not go into medicine for money. If they do, they are misinformed. Some have an advantage if family is able to pay for education. But, most medical students, like me, really do just want to help patients. I'll be living small and working to send my kids to college just like everyone else. So, for patients like Dave: medicine is a life-long commitment, it is a service, and while many doctors from past generations have lived richly, the cost of medicine AND ESPECIALLY medical education has changed. Doctors today train hard, work hard, and are saddled with enormous debt. They do this because they want to opportunity to serve patients, and they deserve to be compensated.

    May 4, 2012 at 13:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • lori

      I work for a psychiatrist in AL. He left a 6 fig. income to be able to treat his patients in his private practice without the mafia that is health insurance...namely Medicare dictating how he should do his job. This is his only source of income and I can tell you that his taxable income for 2011 was $18,000. I certainly can't speak for other specialties, but psychiatrists are at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to income. For example, Medicare will kindly reimburse him for a regular follow visit (20-30 min) for $29.76. That doesn't even come close to covering the expense to see that patient. This doctor's philosophy is "As long as I can pay my bills, I'm happy." Yes, he is still paying for med school, he graduated in 1995. He spends at least 20 minutes for follow ups and 1 hour for new patients and never double books patients. This is a doctor that personally went w/out personal health insurance b/c HE couldn't afford it. He was called by his former employer, which was a state run mental hospital, to name his price to come back. His response, "I'm not for sale." Yet, they still call. He has stated it's sometimes not easy to turn down that stable income, but he will always have his ethics!

      June 6, 2012 at 22:49 | Report abuse |
    • Larry

      I just saw an internal medicine job advertised. $165k starting, all insurance covered, a stipend to cover education costs, 5 weeks time off. Don't give me the sob story about schooling costs and insurance. Medicine has a tight rope around the necks of americans, limiting the supply of doctors and other professionals. It's a big scam and it needs to stop. Let the market determine true value, not artificial policy to twist true worth.

      August 16, 2012 at 23:15 | Report abuse |
    • gene

      Larry, that internal medicine job likely entails 60+ hours/week PLUS evening and weekend on-call, rounding in the hospital for inpatients, PLUS countless hours of meetings and paperwork and returned phone calls to worried/sick patients and family members. This is AFTER 11+ YEARS of post-secondary education. And I bet a good chunk of that vacation doesn't get used because there isn't time. So all in all, it looks good on paper, but in reality, that internal medicine doctor will earn EVERY penny of that salary!

      August 23, 2012 at 08:25 | Report abuse |
    • jen

      I spent TEN years in medical school and residency! i regulary worked from 430 am to 7 pm. That does not include weekly 35 hours calls, that drain you physically and emotionally.

      i saw my parents once a year because I spent my vacations studying for my 11 boards

      because I had to pay my own way, had nearly $300000 in debt from going to really good schools for undergrad and private schools. By the time I finished, my interest got added to the principle and my loans started out at $450000.

      My pay right now is $150000. so after taxes, i take home about 110000. And then I pay $50000 per year for my student loans. Because of the high interest rates, most of payments are still interest!
      My malpractice insurance is $20,000 a year! And this is just the basic insurance!

      So at the end, I have about $50000 to live on.
      So if this was all i was going to make, I might have taken fewer loans, worked a LOT LESS, studied a lot less.
      I might have not made allllll those PERSONAL SACRIFICES!

      I love my job. But my pay does not justify that I am in my mid thirties, just barely considering starting a family. And people in computers, marketing, lawyers, who spent a lot less time studying and have no work responsibility all night or weekends make more than I do.

      So many of your doctors dont make that much money.
      In fact, if you count the number of hours they work, including call on nights and weekends, and amount of studying they did,
      they are the least appreciated profession. and yes, most doctors do care about patients. they are just afraid of being sued. because our society often sues not because they were wronged but because they want to hit a lottery out of pure greed.

      and the current government PUNISHES SUCCESS and HARDWORK

      August 25, 2012 at 23:16 | Report abuse |
    • ju

      You can't say no doctor is in it for the money. Clearly some are truly concerned about patient welfare and money is secondary. However, there are many who look to medicine for prestige and money. I know of an Ob/gyn who is no longer taking new gyn patients but will gladly accept pregnant women into the practice. Reason? Perhaps she wants to make more money with the pregnant women, who require multiple visits, perhaps even c section surgery. The average once a year gyn patient isn't going to provide that type of income.

      August 26, 2012 at 14:38 | Report abuse |
  3. Meg

    Nurses deserve to be compensated for the same reasons. Private university for a B.S. (GW) was $129,000, then an M.S. (in nursing) was an additional $52,000 of tuition debt, and my salary during those years was non-existant (save for a teachers aid job).

    So, after six years of education, $173,000 in school debt, I'm busy saving lives over long hours for $24/hr. My outlook: $28/hr down the road. Yeah, me!

    Somehow, doctors are the only ones credited with multiple years in school, massive debt and low pay. Meet me: 6yrs/$173k/$24 per hour.

    May 4, 2012 at 16:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • scarf

      I did some quick math based on some (admittedly) simple assumptions. In short, going from age 22 (presumably immediately following completion of a bachelor's degree) to age 65; nursing pay $50K/yr, physician pay $0/yr for 4 years of med school, $50K/yr for 7 years of residency and fellowship, $150/yr after that (no adjustments for pay for years of experience, educational loans, etc). This doesn't take into account the fact that most nurses positions come with benefits, while many physicians positions do not (Like I said, I'm trying to do this with simple assumptions.) This means a nurse's career income is $2.1 million and a physician's career income is $5.1 million. Assuming that nurses work 36 hrs/week and physicians work 60 hrs/week (again, I understand that many nurses and doctors work more or less than this), this works out to roughly $27/hr for nurses and $38/hr for physicians. This doesn't seem particularly out of line to me, considering the respective responsibilities of the positions.

      May 4, 2012 at 18:08 | Report abuse |
    • Meg

      Nurses work more than 36hrs/wk. For 6 yrs of school, an M.S.N. doesn't make money. Doctors make more than $150k per year.

      May 4, 2012 at 18:41 | Report abuse |
    • John

      I am a physician. I work 70 hours / week. My gross pay is $48K a year. No overtime pay. I was required to complete 8-9 years of schooling. I make approx $10 / hour. I do not see how I am making money off someone else's illness. I am not benefiting in any way except by the satisfaction of helping others who take for granted the sacrifice of ALL healthcare workers. We are expected to take overnght call 30 hours away from friends and family. We do not get paid for those extra hours. Any other healthcare worker gets paid for home call (hours staying ready in case you go in plus higher pay for actually going in) for overnight duty. I am paying $2000 a month in school loans. That leaves me about $1300 a month for living and housing. It's ok to regulate doctors pay but no one else's. Everyone else is allowed to complain about something but not doctors. Why don't you look at yourself and improve yourself as a person instead of coveting what others make if you are not willing to put in the time. Nonsense.

      May 5, 2012 at 15:32 | Report abuse |
    • John

      Your comment about doctors make more than $150K per year is a blanket statement. There are many grades of pay in any field. Stop blowing smoke. Nurse Anesthesists can make $220-250 K per year. All nurses in my hospital make more than me. Your comments are made to mislead instead of being truthful about the real issue. You are unhappy in life and you think making more money and coveting will make you happier. Well you are wrong. You want a doctor's salary? Well here is your chance, I will give you my year's salary for your's. I will work the same number of hours per week and you can cut your's in half and I will still trade you. If you think i am not serious, I am. Let's trade. Here is your chance to have a doctor' s salary. I will give you every cent.

      May 5, 2012 at 15:47 | Report abuse |
    • Amateur Transplant

      The difference, Meg, is that nurses are not required to have an M.S.N. Doctors ARE required to have an M.D. or D.O. To be a nurse you were not required to do any form of grad school, doctors are. It's commendable that you have a Master's degree, but it was not a prerequisite for you to be able to practice.

      May 5, 2012 at 22:56 | Report abuse |
    • Ann

      Doctors go through 8 years of school and that DOESN'T include residency. I know quite a few nurses and quite a few doctors. Not even comparable. Nurses do a great deal of work but the education and schooling is not even close, sorry.

      May 8, 2012 at 11:45 | Report abuse |
    • scarf

      Meg, in every hospital in which I have worked, nurses work either 3 12 hour shifts/week or 4 10 hour shifts or (rarely) 5 8 hour shifts. If a nurse works more hours than that, they get time and a half. So, those nurses that are working more than 36 hours are making a LOT more than $50K/year.

      Also, if you read what I said, I took into account that neither nurses nor doctors make any money during their bachelor's education. Most nurses don't get more than a four year degree, and some don't get more than a two year degree.

      And, yes, some doctors make more than $150k/year. Some make less, Some nurses make a lot more than $50K/year. My figures were picked with the idea of trying to make a fair comparison, not to skew the conclusion. If I had wanted to do that, I would have used my own figures for my first three years post-medical graduate training; 96 hrs/week (6 am to 9 pm 6 days/week and 6 am to noon on Sunday), on call 24/7, $75K/year, no benefits). That's $15/hour, even without the call. I could have made more managing a McDonald's, and would have had benefits to boot.

      May 8, 2012 at 12:21 | Report abuse |
    • doca

      Aw Meg, I feel for you...I really do. Nurses are very important...but your run of the mill RN has an ASSOCIATES degree. Lets not forget that. And 28 bucks an hour (which is lower than any other nurse ive met) is a pretty awesome salary for someone with 2 years of post high school education. I had a masters degree BEFORE I even went to medical school...and graduated with over 300k in loans. Nurses are a valuable/critical asset to the healthcare delivery team, but please dont go comparing the education a nurse receives to the level of training physicians have.

      May 8, 2012 at 19:02 | Report abuse |
    • Claudia

      As a recently retired RN, I would encourage anyone who wanted to go into Nursing to go to a local Community College and get an Associate Degree and then get the job. Most of the hospitals will give money for your education. Let them pay for the BSN and MS degree. You will be in the workforce quicker and the tuition you own will be about the equivalent of the cost of a new car.

      May 16, 2012 at 11:59 | Report abuse |
    • jr

      So you think you deserve the same compensation as a doctor. Then why did you not chose medical school? Why are nurses with advanced degrees opposed to having to wear badges with their credentials on them? Because the badge will allow the patient to realize they are paying the same amount for a nurse as a doctor. I have alphabet soup after my name as well, starting with the RNC, the CCRN, the CEN, all the way up. I still have no where near the schooling as my husband who did go to medical school. I also do not pay tens of thousands of dollars in malpractice insurance. My malpractice insurance seems trivial to his. Is this because when an advanced practice nurse is named in a law suit they are named secondary to the doctor who oversees their care? Doctors spend four or five years in undergrad, same as advanced nurses. Four years of medical school, a year more than an advanced practice nurse. They then spend three years in residency, before they even start their specialty training, and you still believe you deserve the same pay?

      May 16, 2012 at 23:02 | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      Meg, I'm not sure I follow your logic. A physician is required to spend around 15-20 years before they make any real money. A nurse is required to get an associates degree. You chose to get a master's from a private university, it was not required. You shouldn't be compensated because you chose that pathway. It's like saying a master's in liberal arts should make the same thing as a MBA. The extra education creates no real value for an employer.

      June 5, 2012 at 01:01 | Report abuse |
    • ridics999

      Meg what masters did you get? I am a resident and get 52,000 for 70-80/hrs a week....my wife gets who is a NP gets 110,000 to work 7/70 so she averages 35hrs/wk...the CRNAs in our hospital start at 180,000. Nurses do just fine...and please don't try to fool anyone about how a BS in nursing is equivalent to med school...I was a biochem major while my wife got her BS and lets just say her chem, physics etc were not even on the same playing field in regards to difficulty and depth of content.

      August 23, 2012 at 20:42 | Report abuse |
    • jen

      nurses are also a great profession.
      and they deserve credit for their hard work and hours.

      only good thing is that they did not spend 10 years in grad school
      they also did not work minimum of 80 hours during residency.
      they are also not at risk for being sued like doctors
      and they do the work but they dont have to make critical decisions like doctors
      so their responsibility and burden of decision making tends to be lower.
      much lower.
      same with liability.

      August 25, 2012 at 23:19 | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      Lets be honest, yes nurses do a service, but there is no risk on your license or your behalf. You take orders from the doctors and ask them every step what to do. Yes you have debt, but lets not put nurses and doctors on the same level. Until you make a life and death decision on the fly and have to live with it then you may deserve that type of salary. That is the scariest decision you will ever have to make.

      We are definitely underpaid, Doctors are intelligent enough to do other professions and make great money off the bat. The reality is if we were managers are mcdonalds, we would be mostly debt free, have better hours, better benefits and by the time we are done residency would have climbed the ranks.

      Until you worry every hour of the day about your patients and dont work the "8-12 hr shift" and can go home right after you will never understand the grief of a physician. And the PAPER work time that you dont get paid for.

      August 26, 2012 at 23:44 | Report abuse |
  4. Allison

    I think it is time to rid the "medical profession" of people who think it is normal to make 173K off of someone else's illness...

    May 4, 2012 at 16:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ari

      We spend over 8 years of our lives not making anything and accruing ridiculous amounts of debt to be able to know exactly what to do when you are sick.

      May 4, 2012 at 19:09 | Report abuse |
    • Amateur Transplant

      You're right, Allison, time to get rid of those insurance companies that make ... well, 173k is a bit low for them, isn't it? I mean, I'm sure the CEO of Blue Cross/Blue Shield makes well over 400k, right?

      May 5, 2012 at 22:45 | Report abuse |
    • just saying

      i agree...but you know what, you won't find many of them.

      May 7, 2012 at 13:33 | Report abuse |
    • doca

      Here we go...another "wah were the 99%er." I love my job, and I am privileged to have it but I will admit it: there is no way in hell I would have gone to school for almost 15 years (and be in $320k in debt) after college to get paid 40 grand a year. Would anyone else? Absolutely not. Dont know why things would be any different for physicians.

      May 8, 2012 at 19:05 | Report abuse |
    • mercury

      It's a capitalistic system. The carrot leads society. You cut pay for doctors, the students who are bright enough to be doctors will simply go into law school or banking.

      I love how Americans complain about socialism but when it comes to their own society they have a problem dealing with it.

      It's easy, as long as it is capitalist, the brightest kids will make the most money. If you are smart and do well in school you will get a hjigh-paying job in law, medicine, banking, IT, etc. If you don't want to do well in school well you will suffer. Unfortunately this is the way it is in a capitalistic system. In a socialistic or communistic system you will find that intelligence and hard work won't reall change what you earn. Perhaps this is what people want in the US....

      Either way it follows logically, that in a capitalistic system you will be rewarded both for intelligence and hard-work.

      If you are comparing doctors to McDs workers you don't get it. Compare apples to apples.

      3 individuals earning $200k each:

      Doctor, Lawyer, Banker

      Now which one do you want to go after first....?

      May 15, 2012 at 18:42 | Report abuse |
    • Alexander

      Making money off of someone's illness? I think you need to seriously reconsider your wording. Doctors amass huge amounts of knowledge and skill so that they can _correct_ illness. They provide a tremendous amount of value to their customers, and this is reflected in their pay.

      If you are interested in seeing someone whose means of getting paid is merely the presence of illness, as you have worded it, see a naturopath or equivalent quack. They probably won't charge you as much.

      May 16, 2012 at 10:36 | Report abuse |
    • D

      Most of us just want fair pay for the amount of work we do and the amount of study we have invested in making sure we can take care of you. Also, you can look at that six figure salary and blow away almost half of it in taxes, taxes that we pay to give back to the community. Think of the hours we work, and think of the amount of debt we're in; on the adjusted income-based loan repayment plan, we'd be paying about 20% of our monthly income in loans. 20%! And the interest keeps accruing! I'm not saying we deserve financial security more than anyone else, because everyone deserves financial security, whether or not the current paradigm will allow for it. I'm just saying the people who "expect" to make 150k+ are not the demons you seem to think they are.

      May 19, 2012 at 12:54 | Report abuse |
    • Grant

      Here's the CEO's pay from 2009 for health insurance companies

      Aetna, Ronald A. Williams: $24,300,112
      Cigna, H. Edward Hanway: $12,236,740
      Coventry, Dale Wolf: $9,047,469
      Health Net, Jay Gellert: $4,425,355
      Humana, Michael McCallister: $4,764,309
      U. Health Group, Stephen J. Hemsley: $3,241,042
      Wellpoint, Angela Braly: $9,844,212

      Yeah its doctors that are the problem...

      May 23, 2012 at 03:43 | Report abuse |
    • Sara

      Maybe individuals should feel some personal responsibility to rid the "medical profession" of people who think it's normal to weigh over 300 pounds, eat a dozen donuts/week, live on a sofa, and smoke themselves to cancer. Then you would not have to expect to have more doctors around who trained and sacrificed the best years of their physical lives to live in high-debt, go through the best of undergrad, get the privilege of med-school (or MD/PhD), toil through lunacy of residency/fellowship (where, remind you, procedural training runs the risk of HepC/HIV, especially when you've been up 30 hours), all for the honor of integrating the skills of biology, pharmacology, and personal communication...for the sake of living up to the initials, M.D. and Make a Decision... towards the management of the sickest patients with preventable diseases (at $15-20/hour after taxes, insurance, and alimony), who may sue you. But... Have a donut and a cigarette. Sit back on your sofa. We'll be there.

      It'd be an amusing world if doctors could sue patients for the patients' own negligence.

      August 27, 2012 at 00:21 | Report abuse |
    • bear

      You're on to something. The first people that would crucify Jesus if he came back would be doctors! Why? He'd heal everyone!

      September 2, 2012 at 22:24 | Report abuse |
  5. John

    Yeah Meg. You are putting in the hours for sure. Maybe 4 12 hour shifts per week, with a dedicated lunch and break? Others in my position: 8-9 years/250-300K/$10 hour working 70-80 hours per week (we get 4 days off a month) and we take 30 hour call 4-5 month. I will be making this $10 / hr for the next 6 years. You really need to get your life in order. If money is all you care about then you are in the wrong field. How come you are not fighting against my salary? I am making less than you but you don't seem to think I am not making enough. What only your salary is worth talking about? I don;t have a lunch break. I don't have dedicated breaks. I can just imagine you sitting over your lunch break while managing 3-4 patients and saying man, those docs make way too much. Better page the resident and make sure he is working. Get a life

    May 5, 2012 at 15:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Fact check

      John, I really hope you're a resident/fellow. Otherwise...maybe look for another job? $48k is something no practicing specialist (assuming that since you said 8-9 years of traning) grosses unless he/she is part time. I understand that doctor's don't make as much as we are thought to make, but we do decently well. Not saying that we don't desserve more...just saying that I have yet to know any of my colleagues that are scraping for cash.

      May 7, 2012 at 13:32 | Report abuse |
    • jen

      my lunch breaks were usually spent answering pages
      catching up on notes
      and if i really had time, maybe quickly use the restroom

      some weeks, i called my family once or twice to let them know I am actually alive.

      so if I had to do it all over again, it is not worth the risk, personal sacrifice, and time away form your own family, kids, and health.

      August 25, 2012 at 23:22 | Report abuse |
    • Lee

      dedicated lunch, 3-4 patients? what planet are you currently living on. Try 7 patients on a very acutely ill telemetry floor. Never saw the cafeteria and harsly ever saw the breakroom the whole 5 years I worked there. We go 12 hours without eating and sometimes without peeing. you get a life

      August 27, 2012 at 06:41 | Report abuse |
  6. Jimmy

    We know where most of the extra money in health care costs goes to. With expenditures down, obviously it is going straight to the insurance companies to keep their stock holders happy and to invest in more methods to reject claims

    May 5, 2012 at 16:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Richard J

    I always found it interesting. People are fine paying $300 for football tickets to support a $1.2 Million athlete salary, or $300/hr to an attorney to support a $500K salary in the hopes they'll get money , but get angry if they have to pay more than a $20 copay for their health. With docs having to pay $50K a year for malpractice....$30K for an office worker to do the governmental and insurance company paperwork, $200K for student loans, and much more in expenses and hassles its not golf every Wednesday. And its also funny...we want cheap healthcare that's perfect. No mistakes. Ever. I guess we could pay peanuts for that. But as they say, pay peanuts, get monkeys. Remember that next time you physician saves your life.

    May 5, 2012 at 21:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • C

      You are spot on there, Richard J. We'll pay upwards of $200 a month for cable, if not more, but get worked up paying an insurance premium. If we would just accept that we don't need new cars every year and can trade in our cable for a gym membership, we could make some huge changes in the way our heathcare system functions.

      May 8, 2012 at 10:17 | Report abuse |
    • 1000 Loving Jack

      Well said Richard!! My husband just finished residency and I just graduated. We are exhausted and burnt out. To the extent that I am typing this at midnight on a Wednesday, and can't even think of anything worthwhile to contribute to the discussion. He said a patient argued for 10 minutes over a $5 copay today. I fear we've made a terrible mistake in all of our life decisions up to this point. I don't want to "get rich"...but I would like to make enough money to buy a house and start a family now that we are in our 30's.

      August 23, 2012 at 23:48 | Report abuse |
  8. Vivian

    Add 2 things, how much tax doctors pay? We all know they are at higher tax bracket. So they are doing their job to their communities, not only medically , but also financially. The other things, doctors will accept a lower salary if people who complain about doctors income stop suing them. Then they can focus on medicine only, and help decrease malpractice.
    Last, we have to accept the fact we are not the same. Go to med school, and suffer with the very hard study and multiple steps of difficulties, before your you sit on your butt, drinking cofee and smoking your cigarett, and complain about doctors income...

    May 6, 2012 at 00:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jen

      our society takes no personal responsibility

      people who smoke, dont exercise, and eat poor diet blame their doctors for not fixing their problems.
      lord forbid we ask them to comply with their medications. the patients rather spend $80 on nails each month, and $100 on hair and make up. But when it comes to paying their doctor that may have saved their life, they say, I cant afford that!
      and they are thinking but I will sue you if I find a greedy enough lawyer.

      so why gripe about doctors when the most useless people are
      well paid congressmen, CEOs,
      outrageously paid people are
      and pure entertainers like NFL professionals!
      no one sues them or complaints about the sports tickets being too pricey!

      August 25, 2012 at 23:25 | Report abuse |
  9. just saying

    First off, not ALL doctors responded to this survey so we are only ASSUMING that the profession as a whole feels that they are not “fairly compensated”, which in my mind is different than being “underpaid”.

    Secondly, even if the entire profession felt they were underpaid, I can guarantee that patients will be the last person that doctors approach to increase their reimbursements. Doctors will go to insurance companies, medicare/medicaid first before they try to collect more money for services from patients. Don’t believe me? Check the federal statutes and managed care contracts that PROHIBIT doctors from collecting certain payments from patients first. So instead of blaming doctors for “being rich”, why not instead thank them for treating you without any guarantee that they will receive a dime directly from YOU or from YOUR insurance company for that matter. Remember, the services that doctors provide were provided to YOU. YOU should ultimately be responsible for payment. Instead, however, doctors bend over backwards to make sure YOUR insurance company pays them first before going after YOU for the rest.

    May 7, 2012 at 12:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. C

    Personally, I want my doctor to be very well paid. Paid enough to continue his/her education, paid enough to work regular hours with their peers (more doctors to cover shifts) so he/she will not be tired or stressed, and paid enough to see only a few patients per day so he/she can concentrate on ME. Most people can pay their doctors/insurance premiums much more than they do now because they want to spend their money on lesiure activies instead of health.

    May 8, 2012 at 10:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • C

      should say "but don't becuase they want to spend their money on lesiure activites..."

      May 8, 2012 at 10:26 | Report abuse |
  11. boise

    Regardless if the doctor is wealthy, Patient Dave was wrong. He committed fraud by cashing and spending a check intended for his medical care. He had insurance, and it is his responsibility is to use the check to pay for services received. Dave should not profit from receiving medical care for injuries that were clearly his fault. I hope Dr. Peterson reports this to Dave's insurance company and they drop his coverage.

    May 8, 2012 at 17:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lee

      agree, Dave was wrong.

      August 27, 2012 at 06:45 | Report abuse |
  12. jjay

    so sad but true. first year medical student here. looking forward to the debt!

    May 9, 2012 at 19:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Welder on a Bridge

    OK let put this welder on a bridge analogy to rest. I dont want to drive over a bridge with bad welds. However, a bridge is composed of many welds. One less than perfect weld is not likely to lead to a complete colapse. Additionally "all" of the welds are NDT inspected for quality before the first car is driven over the bridge. I know this, I used to do NDT x-rays on welds. Doctors dont have the luxury of this safety check. A bad weld on a bridge can be repaired. A bad decision in the ER can not. A welder on a bridge is not making a split second judgement call that can emediately save or end a persons life. I

    Additionally it does not take $200,000, and 8 years of education to become a welders apprentice then a minumum of another 3 years working 80hr weeks at near minimum wage before becoming a fully licensed welder.

    Here is a little rough math to put things into perspective. If two kid finish high school togather and one wants to be a doctor and one wants to be a welder. The welder kid goes to school for two years and begins working. I Googled it and found that welders can make 35 to 40k a year. lets say that for the next six years welder kid averages 35K a year. During that time he makes a total of $210,000. In the mean time the Doctor kid has been in school the entire 8 years and amassed a student loan debt of $200,000. The difference between positive income welder kid has earned and negative debt Doctor kid owes is $410,000 dolars.

    But now finally Doctor kid can start making some money to catch up right? Wrong. Now Doctor kid must start residence for a minimum of three years. During this three years Doctor kid will make around 45k salary a year. Roughly equal to what welder kid is making as a seasoned welder with 6 years of experience. But wait our new resident doctor is "Required" to work 80hrs a week and study constantly for monthly inservice exams and USMLE step exams. So now Doctor kid is working twice the hours of welder kid for the same pay. Which means they are making half the hourly wage. Over the 3 years that is a $67,500 deficit to the doctor kid. So now finally if the Doctor kid chooses to not speciallize and become "just" a primary care doctor he can start actually making the BIG Dr. money. But at this point he is $477,500 behind on earnings from the welder kid.

    Now lets assume from this point forward new Doctor earns the average $150,000 and old welder earns $40,000 a year. It will take about 4 1/2 years for Doctor to wipe out defecit and catch up to the welder. Now both people are 15 1/2 years out of high school 33 years old and finally back to even financially.

    Yes at this point the doctor can start earning good money. Substatially more than the welder. But this is return on investment. Investment of money, time, lifestyle, family etc. Now you can start comparing the value of what the two people do. Both have important jobs that we need but who's job is most critical and requires more training and knowledge.

    May 10, 2012 at 14:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • TexDoc

      Your math is wrong. You forgot, because the Doctor is making all his money faster (many years at zero dollars) he is in a higher income tax bracket. I have to make a 1.35 to pay down 1.00 dollar of debt. If Doctors could income average, say the first 8 years of being a doctor with the zero dollars they made while being a student it would be fair.

      May 20, 2012 at 00:14 | Report abuse |
    • ED PA-C

      You're forgetting the 35% income tax bracket that doctor kid is in. So 1/3 of his pay is gone. Secondly, you're forgetting the interest on said student loans. Most of these loans take 20-30 years to pay off.

      August 27, 2012 at 00:52 | Report abuse |
  14. Doctors on Call

    Thank you for providing such information. This is very generous of you providing such vital information which is very informative.Doctors on Call

    May 12, 2012 at 03:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. hypatia

    Horse manure!

    May 16, 2012 at 12:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Lisa

    Most doctors are not rich and certainly most lawyers are not. This is HUGE misconception. The estimate for a lawyers salary of 130K is wrong not even close. At least in general there are always jobs for doctors, lawyers not so much. I have been at it for 10 years and would not want to be a graduate right now. Even in Washington, DC I get applications from lawyers when I hire for a legal secretary. People that are not lawyers and doctors do not understand the loans we incur, with no other choice. I get this a lot. One of the employees at my firm, who is not a lawyer, who handles reimbursing us for travel and gas, purposely takes longer to give the checks to lawyers because in his mind "we make so much money that we don't need it,." Yes I do need the $500.00 I put out for the firm. And don't get me started on the taxes that we have to pay because in the governments eyes we are rich. We cannot deduct student loan interest, because the income level to do that is so low, that most doctors and lawyers don't even come close to qualifying for it.

    May 17, 2012 at 10:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. TexDoc

    I'm a doctor, I make exactly 3 times the average school teacher. For 15 years of education after high school, and a student loan (30 year note) that will be paid with my first 3 years of social security, I think I'm underpaid. I'll never be rich, but no matter what happens, people will always need doctors. I might be getting eggs and meat in trade for care someday, but I will always have work. It's a trade off.

    May 20, 2012 at 00:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Phil

      I agree with you (although I'm not a doctor). Although doctors may not be earning millions or billions at the moment, they still do have jobs waiting for them. And I consider that a great thing in such dire economic times (The unemployment rate in the U.S. is about 8.2%, and that percentage is not including those who stopped searching for work).

      June 27, 2012 at 15:49 | Report abuse |
    • Danielle

      People will always need doctors.....unfortunately in Canada graduating specialists such as orthopedic surgeons cannot find jobs.
      Add that to the debt and years of training. Its depressing.

      June 27, 2012 at 18:59 | Report abuse |
  18. Chicagodoc

    Why is everybody fighting

    May 24, 2012 at 21:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Craig

    Come to Canada, where we are short on doctors, where primary care doctors typically make $300k and up, and specialists like cardiologists make over $1M, where there are virtually no medical malpractice suits, and where doctors can treat their patients like dirt and not lose any sleep because they are in short supply. We are constantly ranked as one of the best countries to live in, in the World. Go to Vancouver, where you can make more than you do in the US working just 4 days a week, while using the extra 3 to go skiing in the morning at a local mountain, and drive down for a round of golf in the afternoon, while taking in the fresh, non-polluted air, with one of the lowest crime rates in the World. Where you can drop your wallet in a cafe and actually reasonably hope that you can go back and someone turned it in to the barista, and where your kids can go to school with minimal worry about getting hooked on drugs or getting shot or stabbed. Or you can just stay in the States and whine while getting underpaid.

    May 26, 2012 at 04:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Nick

      yeah, I have to agree with you that at least that's exactly how I feel about Canada, now that I am in the US. I am originally from Italy and that was exactly how I felt about the US when I was there.

      June 26, 2012 at 23:15 | Report abuse |
    • Danielle

      There's lots of jobs for the GP. Jobs are hard to find if you are a graduating surgeon.

      June 27, 2012 at 19:00 | Report abuse |
    • canada

      that is because canada sucks

      August 28, 2012 at 23:02 | Report abuse |
  20. Barbie Bromberg

    I feel sorry for the doctor who did such a good job only to have the patient not pay him, but I do believe that isn't how it usually goes. I went to a dermatologist not long ago; I had a skin tag that they removed with the can of aerosol that they use. Less than 10 minters from start to finish and they charged my insurance company $250. I had to pay my $50 copay, which I believe in itself was a fair price for what I received. The problem is that the people with valid insurance are paying for everyone and that isn't fair either.

    There are still doctors who want to heal patients and this doctor sounds like one of them, but there are many doctors who don't keep up what is going on and allow the pharmaceutical reps to determine what they give to their patients. These salesmen buy lunches and coerce doctors into using their medicine. The doctors feel they need more revenue and they perpetuate our ill health in prescribing these meds, many we simply don't need and have side effects.

    In my case, I don't take meds and I won't unless absolutely necessary and I am my own advocate, but many people place their total trust in doctors because we have revered them in the past and many people believe that they are gods.

    I guess I am saying that I am so sorry that this particular doctor got screwed, but on the other hand there are many doctors who are screwing us by getting in bed with the pharmaceutical companies. When you decide on a profession, the money shouldn't be the kicker. If you want to be a doctor b/c they make money, perhaps you should choose another occupation. In fact talking about what doctors make at all is rather sickening. There are no guarantees.

    May 26, 2012 at 20:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Page

    How comparing physicians pay and hours worked with veterinarians? Then perhaps you might a different perspective on your earnings.

    May 30, 2012 at 01:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Penny

    Yes, there is an upcoming Doctor shortage, there is already a GP shortage as Specialists have more prestige in the Medical community.
    To the RN's who spoke about the expense of getting a Masters Degree, hospitals here in Memphis provide the classes for such an advanced degree FREE for their nursing staff. It still is expensive in terms of effort, but not of money.
    And, BTW, the Laboratories are already hurting for Med Lab Technologists. A 4 yr degree, same classes as the pre-med, dental and pharmacy Pharm-D students (which is why many become lab techs to earn a living while they take M-Cat, P-Cat, etc. and wait for an opening in their field of choice- usually 3 years in this area), only 1/3 of the needed new MTs are being trained. The last of the 'boomers' are within a few years of retirement, and no one is on TV advertising, "Be an MR! Get Results!" We may have to do what Britain is doing- overnight our lab tests to India. I hope they are teaching the new docs how to interpret test results obtained from old degenerated specimens.

    May 30, 2012 at 15:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Timmy Suckle

    I kissed my way up to CEO at a health insurance company. Now I take over $1,000,000 of your health care dollars for NO VALUE ADDED to your health care. And that’s just me. Now think about how many other VPs, Directors, Managers, etc. are at my company alone. Now multiply that by thousands of others at hundreds of other health insurance companies. From 10 to 25% of your health care dollars go towards administration that adds NO VALUE to your health care. But my company’s PAC dollars will continue to fool you little people into thinking that a single payer system will be bad. Little people like you are so easy to fool. Little people also don’t realize that a single payer system is the ONLY system that would allow little people (as an entire country) to negotiate better health care prices. Little people don’t realize that the Medical Cartels already know that. And that is the reason why the Medical Cartels spend so much PAC money from the hospitals and doctors lobbying against a single payer system. Some little people say that a single payer system would cost you little people more. But if that were true, then wouldn’t the hospitals and doctors WANT that extra money? Yes they would. So why do the Medical Cartels lobby against a single payer system? It’s because the Medical Cartels know it would allow little people to negotiate better health care prices. And that’s what the Medical Cartels are afraid of. Period.
    But us big wigs at insurance companies, hospitals, and pharmacy companies don’t ever need to worry about health care no matter what it costs. We get our health care paid for one way or another by you little people. And we get the little people that work at our companies to contribute to our PACs. And us big wigs say it’s to protect the little peoples’ jobs. But in reality it would be in the little peoples’ best interest to NOT contribute to the PAC. Again, little people are so easy to be fooled. I won’t ever have to worry about losing my job with so many little people being brain washed by the Medical Cartels’ PAC money. Not only that, the Medical Cartels’ PAC money is used to elect so many republicans that will never allow a single payer system. Republicans have always fought against any meaningful health care reform. But that’s what our Medical Cartels’ PACs pay them for. Politicians can be bought so easily.
    Pretty soon the only people that will be able to afford health care is us big wigs. And that’s the way it should be. We don’t want you little people using up the resources when we need them. And once again, I thank you little people for capping my SS tax at the $106,800 level. Now I only pay 1.3% SS tax and you little people pay 6.2%. Also, thank you for extending my tax breaks. I’m using the extra money on my vacation houses.

    May 31, 2012 at 10:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. PokingBears

    What a joke, and don't give me that 80 hours a week BS. I work 80 hours a week @50k a year. You want to cry about student loans you should have taken a different career path. You want to cry about malpractice, again you should have considered ALL the pros/cons to your career. Stop your whining and get off your high horse, maybe if you step down with the people you so GRACIOUSLY save everyday and live for a moment where you can not make ends meet you will cherish what you have. No returns? Again BS, I know a lot of people in the medical profession, they have the most robust investment portfolios I have ever seen, bankers weep at the sight. This whole article and the comments are laughable.

    June 5, 2012 at 17:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dr Freethought

      Please see my comments below.

      August 24, 2012 at 21:25 | Report abuse |
    • Surgeon

      Let's see how you feel about physicians when you come to the ER. It's not a question as to whether you'll come, but rather when. Disease and death mows all of us down, including you PokingBears. Motor vehicle collision, cancer, your wife has an obstruction? What's your pick? I can't wait for you to put on that hospital gown and participate in our health care system.

      August 25, 2012 at 12:21 | Report abuse |
    • ED PA-C

      You work 80 hours a week making life and death decisions, simultaneously answering pages, making phone calls, responding to questions from nursing, calming families, with a minimum of three or four screaming children somewhere in the vicinity while you attempt to figure out what the 'little yellow pill for my pressure' is from the lady who thinks she's actually on an airplane while they guy next to her has overdosed on some unknown substance? ok.

      August 27, 2012 at 00:56 | Report abuse |
  25. Jimmy Choo


    Mo' money, mo' problems....

    June 5, 2012 at 22:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. j

    I don't think anyone is paid enough. Or things are just too expensive. I have been teaching high school sciences for 7 years. I earn 36k/year. During the school year I work an 8 1/2 hour day. (0730-1600). I get a 25 minute lunch. I get 2 weeks off in winter, 1 week off in spring and 8 weeks off in summer. During the summer I attend a couple of AP conferences and spend on average 10 hrs/week lesson planning (because they keep having me take on new classes!) I don't get extra for attending AP conferences. As a matter of fact, they won't even reimburse the hotel. Since it is 1 1/2 hours away (one way) they told us staying overnight for the two day conference is unnecessary. All this for 36,000 a year? Oh and I have a 4 year Bachelor's of Science and a masters. Maybe we're all just fools for working for so little. But I don't think we have a choice. A lot of my student's parents are MDs. They whine about student loans. (I sympathize; I have family members who are MDs). But then the MD and non-working spouse both drive brand new Mercedes, have house keepers and live in oversized houses (5,000 square feet is not unusual.) The MD's wife tends to hang out at the tennis club taking private lessons and coordinating her kid's social events.

    June 7, 2012 at 12:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Anon

    I'm pretty sure that "Dave" spending the $3,200 check on himself qualifies for insurance fraud. I could be wrong since I'm not an expert on it.

    June 26, 2012 at 10:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. ComicRelief

    Sounds like all these professions, as thoroughly-trained and beneficial to society as they are, just don't come with the sort of power that we so value in America. Go back to school, get an MBA, and make tons of money for "managing" everyone else's – it's the American dream! Nurses – work your way up to a hospital administrator. Doctors – become that CEO or senior VP you so hate! Schoolteachers – become a superintendent and get paid ten times more to fire your friends!

    June 27, 2012 at 10:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. ERDoc

    As a senior ER resident I make about $50k. In a year, I'll make significantly more. On a normal shift I work about 10 hours, during which time I rarely eat, drink, or use the bathroom and I see somewhere between 12-20 patients with an unlimited number of complaints. I work between 20-23 shifts a month, not including administrative time, studying, and academic projects that I am required to complete. I can agree that healthcare costs have ballooned., but doctors are not making the vast majority of this money. What we pay for, as a society, is maintenance of our hospitals and technology. You come to an ER with "the worst headache ever" and you're gonna get a CT scan and an interpretation of your findings. Now you get to pay for the hospital, the CT scanner maintenance, the physical space, the nurses, the EMR fees, radiology technician, transportation services, environmental services, registration, and of course your ER doc and radiologist. There's also static costs like the water bill, electricity, air conditioning etc. I will likely never see the huge salaries that are mentioned here, and even if I did the money would be heavily taxed and much of what is left (at least early in my career) will go to my $200k in student loans and the $95K I owe on my 840sq/ft condo. I will almost certainly drive my Sentra well into this decade and my ailing water heater will ensure that I take lukewarm showers for the rest of residency because I have neither the time nor money to invest in repairing it. Do most people spend too much at the doctor? Yes. Do I get paid enough for what I do? No. Do I love my job? Absolutely. I do my job because I love what I do, not to get rich. All I really want is adequate reimbursement for my time and effort, and a little bit of respect ... and even the respect is negotiable. If I ever struggle to make ends meet as a physician, I will simply change careers to a consultant or administrative position and the US will be down another clinician. Please, stop this nonsense about blaming doctors for the woes of society. The problem is all of ours, not doctors alone.

    June 29, 2012 at 17:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Trainee

    "They are being paid for being oncall, so call them".

    Imagine this – you love your job, you love making a difference in a person's life, you spend years of blood, sweat, tears, missing birthdays, missing dinners, being late for social events because you want to help people and you've paid your way through universtiy, training and various courses to upgrad your skills. AND because of this dedication, the years of hard work, the heart's in the job – you're DAMN good at it.

    Say EVERY 2-3 nights of your working career, someone will wake you up more than once from your sleep. What price would you pay for that? Could you do it for $300 an hour for that call? How about $30? How about just $3?

    The question is, how much is your health worth to you? Many people will pay hundreds of dollars for upgrading new phones and computers that they dont need, but not for their own health.

    Sure, pay the doctor minimum wage – you will no longer get those who top their class studying to dedicate their lives to your health. You will get people who may not have the academic ability to get through the training. Sure, there will be many who love their job and will look after you out of the goodness of their heart. But the reality is, the cream of the crop wont be fighting to look after you.

    July 6, 2012 at 08:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. madfeesh

    Why does it take so long and cost so much to educate a doctor?

    July 29, 2012 at 01:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • beejeebus

      simple answer, because if the doctor makes a mistake you are maimed or dead. It takes time and money to make sure you are trained to get it right

      August 9, 2012 at 11:33 | Report abuse |
  32. anne d.

    Another issue for most doctors that is not generally relevant for other highly trained professionals is the fact that they receive no additional reimbursement for their services as time progresses. Extra education, training, recognition, and experience is not calculated into a doctor's fee. Payment levels for services are controlled by the insurance companies and the government. If you're an attorney with years of experience and a burnished reputation, your hourly billing is commensurately higher, especially in corporate firms. Same for most successful business executives. Not so for physicians.

    August 9, 2012 at 15:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Dr. Mike

    All the solutions to health care coming soon-www.drofcomedy.com

    August 11, 2012 at 16:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. DoctorServer

    Like many seriously underpaid professionals, I find the arguments presented here are spurious and even insulting. Seriously. I'm a Masters-level Medical Librarian. My role is to help physicians locate quality information with which to treat their patients. In other words (for patients who have never heard of my profession and think librarians are only those nice people who work at your local public library) I’m the person your doctor calls when s/he doesn’t know what to do with you. By the way, I also plan, execute and write the post-test information for your physicians’ continuing medical education programs. I too spent many years in college to gain my degree, and my education cost five figures. But comparatively speaking, my salary is in the low $50,000 range with 14 years of hands-on experience in a hospital setting. Entry-level salaries in my profession start in the $30K bracket. On a similar note, I have a colleague in UK who holds a PhD in biochemistry and works in a hospital laboratory as a Clinical Pathologist. He barely makes more than I do with over a decade of experience, and his skills are often critical to the health and welfare of patients who don’t even know he exists and never pay him the accolades you regularly receive from your patients along with your salary. So please, doctor, don’t wax eloquent about how you’re underpaid when you fully rely on those of us who truly *are* undercompensated and who are equally responsible for human health.

    August 14, 2012 at 10:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • DeeJay76

      Sorry for your troubles. Just like newspapers or magazines, the internet has started to replace many previous methods of information gathering and communication.

      As an MD, I no longer seek out a medical librarian to help me figure out my problem. I search online and do it faster myself.

      August 23, 2012 at 08:52 | Report abuse |
    • marie

      I make about twice what you make paying off my 200,000 grand in loans. I think its fair you make a lot less. Do you spend every couple nights up all night in the hospital taking care of sick patients? Have you ever stuck a needle in the back of a sick baby in front of his terrified parents? The information you provide is important but actually having a patient in front of you making difficult decisions is a whole other ball game. To be on your feet all day long taking page after page. People outside of medicine will never understand the extreme stress, the toll on you and your family of what we do. You won't understand what it is like to walk into the room of a patient and have a family tell you they will sue you if you don't get it right.

      August 23, 2012 at 11:05 | Report abuse |
  35. Kayla

    Doctors are in fact under compensated. The figures represented in the article are accurate as of 2011 and are displayed on medscape.com. As a premed student, I am expected to take all classes corresponding with my major along with at least 20 other med school prerequisite courses. I am already thousands in debt and only in my junior year(and I luckily even had a prepaid college plan that paid for most of my expenses). Doctors are and have been continuously underpaid; only 15% of the top physician money makers, radiologists, claiming they are satisfied with pay. After med school, we will be paying off loans for a longer amount of time, and at a higher rate, than any other occupation! Not too mention, there is a major physician shortage! All fields are seeing in increase in patients and a decrease on the amount of time spent with patients. It is arguably the most chaotic, stressing field to be in (all for the sake of helping others). If there is high demand, the pay should reflect that! And right now, it doesn't! Decrease pay and watch the doctors slip away.

    August 17, 2012 at 23:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Roham

    Academic physicians make just a fraction of private practice MD's. This should be considered in this very complex issue.

    August 23, 2012 at 10:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. pedsdoc

    While some specialists are probably fairly compensated, I think pediatric doctors are severely underpaid. I work as a pediatric hospitalist, finished residency a year ago. make low 100,000s paying off 200,000 in debt. Most jobs in the area had similar salaries. After taxes (and income is too high to deduct loan interest) and the 2000+ in loans payments there isn't much left. I take the bus to work or bike to save. I can't afford to save for a house. I see patients in the ER, take care of sick kids in the hospital and go to deliveries. The stress level can be insane. Taking care of a seizing child, diagnosing and treating a child with meningitis, a decompensating asthmatic or trying to differentiate the sick kid from the not so sick kid at 2am. All the while I can't tell you how many times Ive walked into the room of a patient and the parents tell me before Ive even started they will sue me if I get it wrong. I love what I do but it does take a toll on my family, my sleep and my finances. Medicaid reimbursement for pediatric services is comedically low. Pediatric specialists in endocrinology or infectious disease or nephrology have it worse. They do 3 more years of training and many make less than I do now. That is why there is a huge shortage of pediatric specialists in this country. I think radiologist, dermatologist, anesthesiologists, plastic surgeons may be more than fairly compensated but much of the pediatric care in this country I can promise you is a bargain.

    August 23, 2012 at 11:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. mike

    I don't understand all the vitriol in some of the responses. I work hard, I get paid for my work. Isn't this the "american" promise? Funny thing is that I don't even get to set my prices the insurance companies and Federal government dictate these terms. I work hard in my practice, I pay very high malpractice insurance, I spend every third night away from home on call, and yes there are plenty of stress in medicine. But I get paid to manage this...I am responsible for my decision to enter medicine, I am responsible for the costs of my own education. For my colleagues who moan and groan about their pay...you should seriously take a look at the "medical societies" who represent us poorly like the AMA. They have managed to burn our public reputation to the ground.

    For all the critics of our profession stop with the bashing and start being responsible for your own health. Decrease the obesity rate down to 10% of the population and make sure the unintended pregnancy rate falls to that level too .

    At the end of the day, pay me what you think I deserve and I will make my own assessment of risks and benefits. At some level I'll just quit and spend the quality time that I owe my family and make my living doing something else worthwhile.

    August 23, 2012 at 14:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Xavier King


    August 23, 2012 at 14:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. MS

    I'll throw this out there.
    I am a practicing physician. I worked through 4 years or undrgrad, 2 years of graduate school, 4 years of medical school, 5 years of residency, and a year of fellowship...and NOW I make a "lot" of money. Of course I define a "lot" as significantly more than the average citizen in my geographical region. I amassed over $200,000 in debt from medical school, and another $200,000 in debt in order to buy a home and a car for my family to live after I got my current job. Factor in my wife's college debt, and her previous disaster of a home loan, and we have upwards of 1 million dollars in debt. We live paycheck to paycheck, much like most of you. Why? Is it because we are so terribly bad with our money? No. It's because for the past 16 years I have been out of the job market in order to learn how to be a good physician.
    16 YEARS.
    How many of you people complaining about how doctors make too much money are willing to not make ANY money for the next decade and a half? And when 2028 finally does roll around, don't you think all of your hard work and sacrifice would warrant a bit larger paycheck than the guy who makes your latte? Or would you wonderfully self-actualized people all accept minimum wage, because after all what you do is a service, and you "shouldn't profit off of someone else's illness".

    One more thing on that comment...several posters said doctors shouldn't profit from other people's illnesses...are these the same people who would then sue their doctor (for whatever reason) so THEY can profit from their own illness? Interesting.

    *before anyone goes hog wild, I admit I did make $37,000 before taxes when I was a resident, which allowed my family to eat.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. MS

    When I was in fellowship, I was honored to become friends with my neighbor, an 83-year old man from the pacific northwest. He told me in no uncertain terms "I don't know if doctors are overpaid or not...all I know is I have had 3 different types of cancer and I would not be around if it wasn't for doctors. So I don't know if doctors are overpaid; but I do know we would all be in a heap of trouble without them being there for us".

    Well said, Bill.

    (Bill is now in his mid-80s and has recently had open heart surgery and is doing well).

    August 24, 2012 at 10:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Dr Freethought

    The real issue is people don't understand how long and taxing medical education is, including most who decide to go to med school. At the front you feel strong and smart and like you will rise above the system. I think almost everyone I've met in medical training has good intentions and most still want to help people. After 15 years of post high school education I am now entering practice. Fortunately my marriage is intact. Those who marry during training suffer a disproportionately high divorce rate. Your life is controlled in a way that I've decided only exists in the military. The difference is instead of moving up in the ranks, doctors start out as a Private every three or four years for more than a decade. My friends have had a "normal life" for a long time now and I still train. I spent $250,000 on med school and am half a million dollars in debt with a lower hourly wage than the nurses I work with. It is psychologically taxing and we suffer from burnout at an extraordinarily high rate. Doctors consistently commit suicide at a higher rate than any profession. Doctors die sooner than other well educated people. Truthfully, you don't really understand the situation until you've had life and death in your hands approaching 40 hours without sleep, making decisions that will affect real people. It is a great responsibility and challenge. Many patients give us little respect or thanks. And the payors change the rules all along, which makes it difficult to plan your future in a high technology field.

    I'm glad I did it. Sadly I hesitate when I hear young people talk about wanting to be a doctor, not wanting to jade them. If their heart is in it I encourage them, because, at least for me, I feel it was a calling. And although our reimbursement may be cut, I still love what I do and really enjoy helping people. Just keep it all in mind next time you see a doctor.

    August 24, 2012 at 21:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. K, PA-C

    I'm a physician assistant. I hold a 2 year Master's Degree in Medicine. For my Master's degree alone, I have 90K in debt. I'm lucky in that I don't have any bills from my four years of undergraduate. I don't have to complete a residency like doctors, and thus earn more than the residents. However, my salary will not rise as theirs dose. I do make 98,000 annually – however, my student loan bills are a thousand dollars every month, for the next twenty five years. Furthermore, the income tax bracket takes 33% of what I make. Of the 98K, let's say 33K is paid in taxes. That's 65 left. Then another 12K to student loans. 53K left. My salary may increase by 5-10K over the course of my career. I have 7 years of higher education. I have a friend who is a carpenter and earns more. And never stepped a foot in a college classroom. My shift work entails 14 twelve hour shifts per month. I don't earn extra pay for weekends, night shifts, holidays. I show up rain, shine, earthquakes, hurricanes. I often stay an hour past the end of my shifts. There is no overtime. I often am called in to work extra shifts that I don't get paid for. It's not uncommon for me to add an extra 24 hours of unpaid work in a given month. And I work in an urban city where many patients don't have insurance. I work extra hours, I pay my dues, and the people I work so hard to treat don't even pay the system that pays me.

    August 25, 2012 at 03:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. GARY

    Very simple answer to the perception of doctors being overpaid.......There are too many Greedy docs that are doing too many unnecessary surgeries and treating their patients like crap for their own lavish lifestyles and beach homes,private schools and luxury cars. The great compassionate doctors should get a million a year to start....the others should be thrown in jail

    August 25, 2012 at 18:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jamjam

      wow, the only people I know living that lifestyle work in plastic surgery. I guess they should allow people to look pretty for free, and then you can finally afford to be that pretty girl you've always wanted to be Gary.

      i think what gary is missing is the fact that doctors have to order every test imaginable, send you to 3 specialists, and thoroughly scour the inside of your behind, just to avoid being sued for trying to help you in the first place.

      I mean gary if you think you can make better decisions about what type of treatment you need, then by all means when you are in a critical medical situation, halt the people trying to help you and demand that you treat yourself at home.

      August 27, 2012 at 17:58 | Report abuse |
  45. ju

    Every doctor I know lives very comfortably and some have multiple homes. Their kids go to private schools. They work similar hours to other professions and even get to take off Wednesdays and leave the office early on Friday afternoons.
    I know doctors who feel very justified charging over 200.00 per hour and don't take insurance. SOME of these complaints come from a place of pure greed.

    August 26, 2012 at 14:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Jeff

    Doctors endure unimaginable stress and sacrifice much in their lives (and their family's lives) to keep you, your parents or your children alive and healthy as long as possible. If 150K is too much to pay them...then who should make that salary?

    Maybe we should all make 40K and draw professions out of hat when we're 18. That'd be fair.

    August 26, 2012 at 15:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jamjam

      right on jeff. Sounds like much of the negative posting by nurses is'nt "i want to keep my high pay, but I want the doctors to be paid well too" its more like "I'm a nurse, I want to be paid very well and keep my current high pay, while doctors should be paid anything because I have to take orders from them."

      August 27, 2012 at 17:51 | Report abuse |
  47. Lee

    I have beena RN for almost 20 years. I make 32.00 per hour. I am absolutely responsible fo reverything that happens to my patients. If the docotor orders an inappropriate med I am supposed to catch it. If a doctor doesn't round on a patient I have to call and remind them and if a consult doesn't show up it is my responsibilty to make sure they do. I get yelled at for calling, and then I get yelled at for not calling. If the patient falls I am in trouble regardless of the reason. I have to coordinate all the care and ancillary departments to make sure that everone knows what everyone else is thinking. So all things considered my BURDEN OF RESPONSIBILTY is pretty large......don't you think If any one wants to put on a pair of rubber gloves and follow me around for 12 hours.....have at it and then you can tell me that i get paid too much. Also, to whomever thinks that most nurses only get advanced degress because they want to and not that they are required.... Do some research before spouting off. Patient outcomes are greatly improved on units with Rn's with BSN and MS degrees. WAH WAH WAH about the 8 years of schools and then med school and residency, no one held a gun to your head and told you to go to med school.....it was a choice. So quit complaining and return the pages you are ignoring.

    August 27, 2012 at 06:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jamjam

      seems like illusions of grandeur to me, I guess the pharmacist who dispenses the medicine is not doing his job too then? because the pharmacist is the one checking to make sure the patient is getting the right medicine in accordance with treatment. doctor = diagnosis, pharmacist = treatment, nurse = care.

      funny how RN's probably spend what? one semester on all of medicine, while pharmacists spend 5+ years and make it a career, but you know whats best I imagine, cause you're nurse Jacky.

      August 27, 2012 at 17:09 | Report abuse |
  48. Jamjam

    All the nurses and 99%ers posting are just jealous of the prestige and decision making position of doctors. everyone in medicine who is not an MD walks around like they are "hot stuff" and doctors are nothing. Until the questions start and suddenly they are right back in their place, doing what they're told to do by a competent well trained MD.

    the real bullies here are nurses, an associates degree to accompany tasks like "giving medication, cleaning patients after BM, checking stats etc etc" does not = 90k a year. ask anyone one else with an associates why they don't have 90K$ a year and the answer will undoubtably be: "I DONT HAVE THEIR UNION".

    Nurses are just union bullies who extort money from hospitals and clinics. ask them how much they care about patients when they go on strike for weeks, or threaten union action when trying to stop the firing incompetent nurses. Maybe doctors should bully healthcare with a strong union to demand the pay they most definitely deserve.

    August 27, 2012 at 16:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. gwslack

    Just want to add my 2 cents... A couple of things not mentioned... One, the patient Dave still had to pay the bill correct? I mean he either paid it directly, or paid a collection agency the bill was sold or given to. Either he h[aid them voluntarily or he had it taken from his paycheck at least the lions share of it. Certainly it wasn't the full amount, and most assuredly the Doctor didn't receive that full amount, but he did get some compensation from it. Also if it were 3,000 dollars I would assume the doctor got the rest of the bill paid for. A full facial reconstruction like that would be much, much more than 3,000 dollars.

    Two, the doctor is paid in more ways than medical treatment directly. Medical billing codes? Why are codes needed? I got a medical bill one time about 15 years ago, the hospital bill I got read like an itemized tax form. $75 for waiting in their waiting room for an hour? Now I understand that would be about $150 to $200...Why the code? Why not simply write it? Because if it were written for us to understand it, half the extra costs and niggling little things wouldn't be on them. Doctors make money from lots of things besides treating patients. The DO receive money from pharmaceutical companies. Why do you think there are pamphlets from so many pharmaceutical companies in the lobby? Why do certain insurance companies get billed differently than others? Because certain insurers are more likely to pay whatever they are given and some will not. HMO's are another example. Doctors get paid for being a part of a group of doctors who take patients from certain HMO's.

    I have worked on military contracts, and on medical contracts, and one thing they both have in common is they BOTH bill and pay more than any other. Why is that? Because they can and they know it. If your average medical doctor makes what you claim a year directly from his practice (medical treatment), how much does he make from those other related sources? How much for being involved in research? How much from big pharma? How much from HMO's? How much from the hospitals who he works with?

    This article was written with a simple view of how things work. A far too simple view that does not compare to reality. The weasel patient wouldn't have the luxury to act that way. The insurer wouldn't give him a check for the doctor he would have given him a check for his needs. If his needs at the time were eating and surviving (being out of work for so long would mean no money coming in) so be it.

    Somewhere along the line the medical profession became business men. And the world has been worse for it.

    August 29, 2012 at 14:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. bear

    All you doctors that have made comments about your salary and how hard you work. Stop! The fact that you have made a comment indicates that your focus is money. Please stop! You look like hypocrites! Oh and don't ask your patients about insurance checks or when they're going to pay you. Again, focus on patient care and not your money problems.

    September 2, 2012 at 22:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jamjam

      bear how did you ever find a computer at the hippy commune you live at? I'm glad you've found a way to avoid living on the street or going bankrupt without money, must be nice. Unfortunately, for the rest of us, money does matter, and it matters when you have loans, and everyone trying to take a piece of your small, small slice of pie. if doctors we're not concerned with patient care and only money, they would of become lawyers like the one you used to sue a doctor and not worry about money problems anymore.

      September 5, 2012 at 10:20 | Report abuse |
    • Jan Yoaker

      Easy for you to say. I'll bet you don't owe 350,000 dollars in debt.

      January 10, 2014 at 01:01 | Report abuse |
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