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. Steve1959

    The average pay for a doctor under a single payer system is $75000 a year. The highest under any single payer system is the UK with $118000 per year. Of course, their college is payed for, but is it worth it when the government dictates your pay?

    May 1, 2012 at 13:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • modizzle18

      My uncle is a doc for NHS and he loves it. Also, his daughter and her husband are also docs in the UK and they are quite content. In addition, people can and do purchase supplementary insurance in the UK, so there are markets outside NHS.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:28 | Report abuse |
    • choo

      They pay a fraction of expenses for college and medical school. They pay a fraction of the cost for malpractice (one of the reasons why lawyers make so much).

      May 1, 2012 at 13:45 | Report abuse |
    • Lorna

      Steve, my sis is a doc in the UK. She is a family medicine doctor and has been in practice for around 25 years. She works 3, half days a week and earns more than $118k, so not sure where you got your numbers from. Additionally, her entire education was free and her lodgings while she was at University.

      May 1, 2012 at 14:00 | Report abuse |
  2. Chris Rew

    Any person in any profession is going to come up with the "i'm underpaid".. .maybe it is true, maybe it is not.
    Having worked in the medical industry I can assure you MOST doctors have nothing to complain about.. building their custom mcmansions and driving $100 thousand cars and taking luxury vacations.

    Maybe the doctors who are dissatisfied with their pay are not the "top" doctors or are choosing to work in areas where the income isnt the same as in a larger metropolitan area.
    After all if you can buy a house in metro land for 1.5 million and make $300 k -- or you can buy the same house in a more suburban/rural area for $600 and make only $150k... its about priorities when it comes down to it.

    Just my thoughts.. having worked with many doctors in a hospital..

    May 1, 2012 at 13:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dr_W

      Where is my custom McMansion? I drive a used chevy blazer. My ex-associate lost her practice and her house due to the economy. Where is her McMansion?

      May 1, 2012 at 13:27 | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      Chris, you should not be so envious of people who suceed and can afford a home, a car, and a vacation. A successful Physician has earned all of those things and more. The liberal punishment of success runs deep.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:28 | Report abuse |
    • JW

      I have never left a message before but Chris Rew has NO idea what they are talking about so should not post anything...just because you know some doctors does not make you an expert in the finances of medicine.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:37 | Report abuse |
    • j

      Tom, let's examine your post:

      A stereotype (liberals), which you obviously also mean as an ad-hominem attack.
      A strawman (liberals hate success)

      You manage to cram 3 fallacies into a two-line post! Bravo!

      May 1, 2012 at 13:41 | Report abuse |
  3. CaptianObvious

    The market system for healthcare is clearly broken. All the client I(i.e., patient) sees is the $20 co-pay, they don't care about the $700 billed to their insurance for a half-hour worth of work. I am a major-league attorney and my fees are high, but nowhere near $1,400 an hour high. On that note, a lot of my day is spent working on billing and collections (i.e., non-billable time). There is no insurance that I can bill whenever I feel like it. The diffference between Drs/Dentists and the rest of the world is that if I overbill my client (even by accident) I lose that client. Doctors don't have to worry about that crap and generally bill insurance to their heart's content with little to no fallout with the client/customer/patient. There is no other industry or business in the world with that luxury.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • StlMelz

      You don't have the malpractice insurance premiums that physicians have either. Many get out of practicing medicine and go into research or administrative jobs because premiums are so high they can't afford to practice medicine anymore.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:33 | Report abuse |
    • Wen

      Maybe so. But how often have you been sued because of "malpractice". Oh wait, that's what the "injury" lawyers that have driven lots of family practice docs out of PA.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:42 | Report abuse |
    • Dr Hubby

      My wife is a family physician who owns her own practice. Her gross personal income last year was around 60K, and if lucky she will pay off her medical school debts before she retires.
      Her average hourly insurance billing is somewhere around $75 to $150, depending on the level of service performed. And that's only what she bills the insurance companies. They always pay less, and with billing issues some pay very little. Medicare is one of the worst.
      So I don't know where you get $1400 an hour, but that is not for any normal doctor.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:42 | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      Wow, we are comparing apples to oranges.
      A doctor does not choose what clients they see, if you get called to a hospital consult and the patient has no insurance you are obligated to see them and treated for free (and most of them do not complain about it, it's part of the "went to med school to help people"). A recent patient (a lawyer by the way) in our practice received expensive cancer medications for a cigarette smoking-induced cancer, once her co-pays reached to >$50,000 she told us that "she won;t pay" and switched to another oncologist in town. Of course no one will send the collections agent to chase a cancer patient...so money that had to be replaced from the doctors pockets.....
      A lawyer charges by the hour/minute....if I call my lawyer the clock starts ticking....do you know how much time we spend communicating with patient son the phone/email FOR FREE?
      So we do worry about our bills as we have overhead expenses too.
      Finally I never hear the goverment telling lawyers 'your hourly fee will drop by 20% as of July 1st" like they keep doing it to physicians.
      Yes some of us do make a good living but earn each cent with hard work helping other people.
      The comment about malpractice also differentiates doctors from lawyers.....

      May 1, 2012 at 13:46 | Report abuse |
    • SerSen D.O

      Oh please don't even begin to insult me with this dribble, the insurance companies payment is on all of my billing. And at that it's never higher than 150 bucks per patient ( I pay for the machines, the office, the IVs, etc and everything else that run the tests oh and my staff that consists of a PA and two nurses. So please don't begin to insult what I do and degrade it to money like what you do.
      I help people and make sure they stay alive even though they do stupid things. You only care about profiting from people's mistakes.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:47 | Report abuse |
    • GetfactsrightCapt Obvious

      Capt Obvious, you really have no clue what youre talking about. I work for a physician and cant disagree that he does very well for himself, but I cant stand for when ignorant people talk about things they know nothing about. I am not saying that doctors should be paid more or less but I felt the need to correct such absurd statements posted by Capt obvious. Firstly, your internal medicine physician makes on average $80/patient, a number for which the physician has no control over. At most 3 patients can be seen an hour(you all know how miserable the wait is). That is about $250/hr max. While a lawyers services are useful, I cannot see how a lawyer making on average $400/hr after 3 years of law school (compared to a can complain about a $250/ hr salary of a doctor after 4 yrs med school and 6 yrs residency. Secondly, the figures you haphazardly threw out would mean a doctor would make $4.2 mil. That is absurd. Third, the average physician makes over $200k. It sounds like a great number except for the fact that that number only includes actual physicians that are out of residency meaning you will be stuck making $40-50k until you are about 33-35 years old. Also, that number doesn't include the $30k or so (depending on specialty) that is spent on malpractice each year. Bc of the lack of tort reform in Nevada, doctors there pay up to $80k/yr. Many people sit back and say how easy it would be if they were a plastic surgeon and making about $1 mil. It is true that this is the case for a select few doctors. But what people don't know is the difficulty it takes achieve a plastic surgeon or orthopedic spot. You need to be in the top 1% of all medical students! So, sharing stories about the doctor with the Porsche and mansion is ridiculous. For 99% of doctors this is far from reality.

      May 1, 2012 at 14:13 | Report abuse |
    • Jim MD

      Those bills that are sent out are a fiction in most cases. Almost all medical services are on contract. I can bill $10,000 for something, but if the inusrance contract is for $50, the rest is a write-off. We bill what the actual charge is in our practice – I don't understand the offices that bill these unrealistic numbers. You also have to be careful not to compare apples to oranges. The big ticket items are surgeries and diagnostic studies. The doctor who sits and listens to you and tries to figure out what is wrong is the lowest paid on the totem pole. The big problem is that insurance favors tests and procedures and not the primary physicians and thinking specialties.

      May 1, 2012 at 14:34 | Report abuse |
  4. djanes

    I was having a discussion with my doctor the other day when I went in for a checkup. He said his daughter wanted to go to engineering school. I, being an engineer, recommened my alma mater in a neighboring state. He gulped and asked me if he'd be able to get in-state tuition for her since it's a neighboring state. I didn't know what the rules were.

    Isn't that funny? A man that probably makes more than double my salary is concerned about what it costs to send his kid to college? In four year's I'm going to have to send our oldest kid to school and I'm concerned about the same thing. No way I could affort out of state tuition ....but i'd like to think I could if I made twice as much money....

    The reality is: The grass on the other side isn't as green as most of us think it is.

    I also have two doctors in my family and from what they've said the medical malpractice insurance they have to pay out of pocket...and patients' non-payment of their bills...is fleecing them out of what would otherwise be a lucrative profession. They don't spend their weekends on the yacht...that's for sure.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • LK

      Your assumption there being that the more money people have the less they consider the value of it? Just because he has more money doesn't mean that he feels the need to waste it on out-of-state tuition if he feels he can get just as good in-state tuition for less money, leaving the balance to do other things with. Additionally you have no idea what he does with his money. Maybe, maybe not, he gives 50% of this income to a charity, to sick family members etc.

      May 1, 2012 at 14:06 | Report abuse |
  5. Heather

    Boohoo I am a nurse...I make 50,00 a year before taxes...I work in an ICU...I call the shots...pound people's chest bring them back from dead...and the dr writes the prescription I need...I tell the dr when the patient is going to crash...I hang the meds...monitor the cardiac rhythms all while the Dr sleeps in the on call room. I work 12-18 hour shifts...give me a break dr...I have to know about as much as you and I am lucky if I make a quarter of the salary...unbelievable

    May 1, 2012 at 13:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dr_W

      you also only have a bachelor's degree (at most). Go to grad school and then realize that residency is 10x worse in terms of work load and academic requirements. Then pay off those bills...

      May 1, 2012 at 13:29 | Report abuse |
    • rob

      Sounds like you should have gone to medical school and spend the extra 6-8 years studying rather than the 2/4 years for your RN/BSN. This is like the Administrative Assistant complaining that the CEO gets paid more than they do. Wawa.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:34 | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      Hey Heather, why don't you spend the time and money in medical school so you can earn the same income, by your admission you are doing the same job. Heather, how much are your insurance premiums? How much did you pay for your educations? How much time did you invest in your education? How much time do you invest in continuing education and training? The article is about how Physician's feel that they are underpaid, but you read this as an article about the pay differences between Physicians and Nurses. 2 years of training versus 12, I think 25% is a fair wage ratio. If you do not, spend the next 10 years in school.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:34 | Report abuse |
    • MD

      "Boohoo" Heather – bet you couldn't get into a US medical school if you tried

      May 1, 2012 at 13:37 | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      Heather you seriously think a doctor sleeps in the on-call room while you're calling the shots, hanging meds and yelling orders? Hmm. Who do you think is the one writing the orders and who do you think is the one running the codes when a patient crashes? Not you. While you sit at a nurses station gossiping or yelling your orders to the CNAs and asking them to do your dirty work, the doctor is trouble-shooting and trying to figure out what is wrong with the patient. They are not sleeping! He/She is dictating their charts, ordering tests, reviewing x-rays, consulting with other physicians. Are you? And after their shift is done, do you think they ride home and get the night off? No! The doctor has to make sure their dictations and charts are done are their priviledges are revoked. This is something your pretty little head hasn't thought of because you're too busy walking on water with your RN degree from your 2 year college. If I were you, I'd show more respect for the people that are out truly saving lives.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:39 | Report abuse |
    • GC

      How much do you pay for malpractice insurance? An OB/Gyne who is technically and legally bound to the health and well being of two lives at once gets reimbursed on average $300-320,000 per year in certain states. His/her malpractice exceeds $180,000 a year. How about medical school loans? How about hospital and medical society fees?
      How about "overhead" fees Heather? Do you pay a receptionist's, or Medical assistant's ENTIRE SALARY a year also? This could be over $80,000 a year!! Could you imagine if you had two receptionists and/or assistants? Do the math Heather..... Doctors are underpaid and definitely misunderstood and under-appreciated.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:41 | Report abuse |
    • Dr. J

      Not to mention, if someone checks out you can just go "oh well" and move on, because the buck stops with us. And there is no way no how you "know more medicine than doctors". If you did, you would have gone to medical school, done surgical/specialty rotations then 5 years of a residency at 80hrs a week for 40k. While I realize you balance a few patients and have more interaction with them, I balance many more, including their entire care. Not to mention the paperwork, the calls, the extra hours not compensated for by salary. I work 65 hrs a week at 200k, thats 65$ an hour after vacation. My accountant makes mroe than that.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:42 | Report abuse |
    • Park

      It's funny thinking that you THINK you know almost as much as the doctor.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:43 | Report abuse |
    • DrR

      How many shifts a month do you work? I bet no more than 15...

      I work 6 days a week for a community clinic in Chicago and can barely pay my loans each month...I love my job but you should put things in perspective.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:44 | Report abuse |
    • PharmD

      Nurses don't call shots in the ICU, intensivists do. If you can't recognize the benefits that each healthcare professional brings to the team than you should be in another profession.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:49 | Report abuse |
    • scarf

      I am a pathologist. So, it's YOUR mistakes that I keep having to deal with!

      May 1, 2012 at 13:50 | Report abuse |
    • Heather

      I have a masters thank you...and the nurses run the codes...let's not forget who is at the bedside doing the work...and I am just replying to the article people...the doctors chose their career and then cry about their salary and malpractice insurance and student loans...their are plenty of government grants to help pay those back...not so much for teachers and nurse or engineers. I never said I know more medicine but I sure know how a hospital operates behind the scenes

      May 1, 2012 at 13:50 | Report abuse |
    • Heather

      GC an ob comes into delivery to catch the baby...what about firemen or police officers that run into burning buildings for pay just above poverty line? That's a hero...you don't hear them complaining...nope just some doctors

      May 1, 2012 at 13:54 | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      Heather...you should have gone to med school and spend an average of 12 more years in training. You also work 12 hr shifts but 3 times a week, not daily. Finally, everything you do you do it UNDER the supervision of a physician that trusts you. The law will not allow you to be a doctor because you do not have the knowledge to be one (doing the same thing over and over does not make you an expert, fixing an unexpected problem is what shows who knows...and when that happens...who do you call? another nurse? or the doctor who is luckily taking a nap in the call room after having worked all day long and who will be working the next day while you do your nails or go shopping.
      Now, I take my hats off to nurses...I respect their work immensely but your comparison is out of context.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:54 | Report abuse |
    • Heather

      I also can barely pay my loans each month also

      May 1, 2012 at 13:55 | Report abuse |
  6. 1styrpcp

    To CJ...when you are in your 60's and under going a bypass, tell your cardiologist right before hand that you dont think his compensation should not equal that of your favorite NFL player. You may be young and dumb, but when the need comes you will change your point of view.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • NC

      Very True.
      I don't understand why entertainers are paid more than anyone else.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:41 | Report abuse |
  7. Annoyed

    The nurses do all of the work. They do all the dirty stuff that the doctor is "too good for" and they double check the doctors work to make sure it's right. I know a nurse who literally saved a guy's life because the doctor looked at the results of a guys test and misread the numbers. Not treating his problem would have killed him. The doctors don't deserve more money than they already make. The nurses do.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Heather

      As a nurse Thank you!!! It's the truth we work our tails off and all we get is grief from the physicians it's ridiculous

      May 1, 2012 at 13:24 | Report abuse |
    • DK

      If you every need bypass surgery, maybe you could save a few bucks and ask the nurse to do it.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:24 | Report abuse |
    • Danielle

      Give me an F*****g break!! A nurse has less than half the education as a physician and its intensity does not even compare. The problem is the nurese don't know what they don't know and as a result believe they have just as much knowledge.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:39 | Report abuse |
    • warchild132


      Hold on for a second. Nurses do indeed do a ton of work and i believe that nurses are underpaid for the work that they do, but the last time I checked it was the doctor who has final word on care, it is the doctor that needs the malpractice insurance, it is the doctor that ends up taking responsibility for the sucsses or failure of care. Nurses have the option of carrying insurance but I do not know a single one that does. And yes I know alot of nusres and have talked to alot more. Are doctors underpaid...I dont know....i do know that a friend of mine is a anethiesyologist (SP) his wife is a pediatrician and the two of them together cant afford to live and practice in CA do to the cost of insurance.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:45 | Report abuse |
    • oijwoiejf09090

      Sounds like an angry liberal nurse from an NYC nurse union who does 1/2 the work for double the pay.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:45 | Report abuse |
    • Dr. J

      So... let me get this straight. You know how to interpret the disease presentations AND test results AND can do invasive techniques AND order testing AND prescribe meds? Waitt..... you went to school for at most 5 years. I am an ID doc. I went to college and professional schooling for more than a decade. Trust me when i tell you you know one tenth of the knowledge base I derive from to "call the shots". We leave the "terrible jobs" to nurses because that is their skill set, and taking the time to wash a patient is a misallocation of my training and ability.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:50 | Report abuse |
    • GC

      How much do you pay for malpractice insurance? An OB/Gyne who is technically and legally bound to the health and well being of two lives at once gets reimbursed on average $300-320,000 per year in certain states. His/her malpractice exceeds $180,000 a year. How about medical school loans? How about hospital and medical society fees?
      How about "overhead" fees? Do you pay a receptionist's, or Medical assistant's ENTIRE SALARY a year also? This could be over $80,000 a year!! Could you imagine if you had two receptionists and/or assistants? Do the math..... Doctors are underpaid and definitely misunderstood and under-appreciated.
      Do you pay rent/lease or mortgage on the hospital floor you work on? Do you pay business taxes, unemployment taxes, or property taxes on the floor you work on? Get you head out of you know what and think logically before answering to this article. You have every right to respond as a free citizen, but its concerning to me that you have this type of mentality functioning as a supposed nurse.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:51 | Report abuse |
  8. Are You Kidding Me!

    Compared to teaching in public schools, where teachers are given so much work that everyday they take it home to do late into the night, sometmies resulting in 70-80 hour work weeks, must work in mostly deplorable working conditions and are controlled by administrators who consider neither quality instruction or the impact on teachers, doctors have it made.

    Poll the happiness and feelings of teachers who are payed even less than garbage collectors in some states and you will see they are not paid for their education, expertise or skills. Instead, these underpaid professionals are often cannon fodder for those seeking to blame them for the education their children get which is entirley at the diretction of the supervisors above them.

    As society continues to devolve, more and more folks will see that respect for authority, the education necessary to hold that authority and the resultant compensation will contine to decrease.

    Welcome to a deteriorating society, and I am not going to cry any tears for those who made the choices they did. No one ever feels they are paid enough.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Nick

      Teachers make more than they are worth... They get 2-3 months off... Any profession 60-80 hours is the norm...

      May 1, 2012 at 13:36 | Report abuse |
    • rob

      I know a lot of teachers and NONE of them work the kind of hours you are talking about. Most are quite content with the 35 hour work weeks, massive vacation time, and relative good pay for hours worked. The only big concern is the threat of layoffs due to budgets. This article is about physicians not educators. Lets stay on topic and stop complaining for your cause.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:37 | Report abuse |
    • are you?

      70-80 hour workweeks for 9 months of the year. I agree teachers are underpaid but they also do not work 12 months like everyone else. I would gladly spend more time at work if I got to take all summer off!

      May 1, 2012 at 13:44 | Report abuse |
    • David

      Wonder how much the proctologist will charge to remove Nick's head...

      May 1, 2012 at 13:44 | Report abuse |
    • oijwoiejf09090

      Always amazing to me when a teacher is so ignorant! JUNE/JULY/AUGUST off!!!!! Your work day is 6:30 to 2:30, never a weekend. If you decide to work on your coloring books at home that's your call. Docs make way less per hour than you. We should start supporting each other... considering society blames teachers for our under-educated children, despite it's bad parents that are to blame. Similarly society blames doctors for an unhealthy population, rather than the real culprits of over-eating and not exercising.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:50 | Report abuse |
  9. relmfoxdale

    Another issue here...Why is it that no one complains about engineers and lawyers and so on making six figures? Why is that OK, but it's not OK for a doctor? Especially when the doctor spent many more years in school and has many more dollars in education debt? Why is it OK for everyone else in this country to want to be reimbursed for their work and live a comfortable life and provide for their kids, but it's not OK for doctors? Are there any other professions for which it's "not OK" to enjoy yourself?

    I bet the same people who take issue with doctors' salaries wouldn't mind if their son or daughter married a "rich doctor," huh? Envy is a horrible thing to see.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Annoyed

      Because those lawyers and engineers aren't complaining that they don't make enough money.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:24 | Report abuse |
    • JimmyPuff

      I'm a Systems Engineer and I'll be the first one to complain that my colleagues and I don't get paid nearly enough. Most of us barely break 65k and work 60-80 hour weeks. The amount of specialized knowledge we're required to have would make most people lose their minds with stress.

      I wanted to go to medical school when I first went to college and now I'm glad I didn't since I'd have ten times the amount of debt and barely double the pay.

      May 1, 2012 at 14:12 | Report abuse |
  10. andrew.peter

    These comments are the exact reason I oppose Democrat-party healthcare reform. These comments are shrewd class warfare attacks on men and women who save our lives!! I say they should be revered and paid far better than athletes! I may not like some doctors personally, but I will never take their gift of healing for granted!!

    May 1, 2012 at 13:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • oijwoiejf09090

      Right-on! Well put!

      May 1, 2012 at 13:52 | Report abuse |
  11. DK

    Definitely underpaid. They get pennies on the dollar because of insurance. Many doctors in my area have stopped accepting insurance. They got rid of their whole insurance department and do not participate in any plan. They have very little overhead now. If you go to them, you can submit the insurance yourself. It is "out of network" because they aren't in any network and you must pay yourself. Many put on their credit cards. They deserve to be paid for their time and expertise.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Physician spouce

    I love how everyone assumes they should get medical care no matter what the cost. The patients, the insurrance companys, and medicare get to choose to pay after my wife has already performed her best to take care of a patients. Most of the time she has no idea what she will get paid if at all. Her collections, which are better than most, are 49% of billing. This is right 49%. That means she is working for free 50% of the time. That is 50% of her time we miss her here at the house with our kids. Healthcare is not a right and cannot be forced from doctors. Contrary to what others have said about pay increases her entire practice of 8 doctors has been steadily making less for the last 10 years. Good luck to you all when you find you have no doctors to see you soon. It is already happening in lots of places. So I ask you, if doctors are not even available anymore are they getting fairly compensated against the risk and hazards? No is the correct answer regardless of weather you think 50K or 550K is fair.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • LK

      Healthcare is a right. How it is provided is another question. It is appalling that in a 1st world civilization there are still people denied preventative medicine because of their means. I am thankful though, from your post, that it is your wife that is the physician.

      May 1, 2012 at 14:14 | Report abuse |
  13. /sigh

    Gotta love a plastic surgeon saying doctors who help patience make enough, your in a racket game they are in the saving life game. i would not consider a plastic surgeon a doctor ever nor a chiropractor or even a dentist.
    Unless they are private practice, which most are not, they would be making very low wages for what they do with at least a 15 year student loan pay off.
    You would not know about that because plastic surgeon are almost all private practices and make the most money in the entire "medical" system and yet you dont save lives at all, as a plastic surgeon you nothing more than an opportunistic d bag who doesn't deserve a DR. at the end of your name let alone an article in anything.
    go lipo yourself.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • KG

      It is short-sighted to say that all plastic surgeons don't save lives. Not all plastic surgery is performed for vanity's sake. Suffer through a severe burn wound accident and see how much you value the plastic surgeon then.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:34 | Report abuse |
    • angryk

      apparently you don't know what all plastic surgeons do, not all of them do breast augmentation and the like, get your facts right buddy

      May 1, 2012 at 13:40 | Report abuse |
    • LK

      Who do you think does skin grafts on burn patients, repairs cleft-pallettes on babies born with deformities etc There are huge number of plastic surgeons employed in truly making a difference to people who have suffered terrible fates. You are clueless if you think that all plastic surgeons do are tummy tucks, face lifts and breast augmentations.

      May 1, 2012 at 14:17 | Report abuse |
  14. LisaF

    The check was NOT for DAVE's groceries. It was for his medical bills. Isn't that insurance fraud?

    May 1, 2012 at 13:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JeffinIL

      Perhaps. I'm no lawyer but it may also be felony theft.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:24 | Report abuse |
    • Donna

      This was my thought too...was the check made out to Dave..or too the doctor? Either way Dave sounds like a slime ball who should have to walk through life with a face as ugly as the rest of him...it would serve him right. And no, I'm not a doctor nor do I feel they have that much to belly-ache about considering the way our economy is going. No one forced them to go to 8 years of medical school. My kids are still paying off their student loans too and they make a he** of a lot less. Suck it up and stop complaining, life is hard all over....geezzz.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:41 | Report abuse |
  15. JeffinIL

    They aren't underpaid, they are financially overburdened with massive malpractice insurance premiums.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jack

      That's because of a 150K a year lawyer wanting to sue for anything and everything

      May 1, 2012 at 13:38 | Report abuse |
    • rob

      Bingo. We live in a litigious society with a broken health care system. If we lowered doctors costs, fixed the fraud inherent in the system, our overall costs would go down and doctors would make more.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:41 | Report abuse |
    • David

      When the doctor messes up and you end up in a wheelchair for the rest of your life, or hooked to a ventilator, or perhaps die, watch how quickly your family looks for one of those lawyers who wants to sue for anything and everything. Everyone likes to blame the lawyers, but they generally only get involved when someone else messes up.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:50 | Report abuse |
  16. PGJack

    My doctor works hard. He's on the run from patient to patient all day. We depend on him for our very lives. He has a staff of four or five people required to do all the paperwork for insurance companies, etc. The staff is paid from the money generated by patients. I don't know what the right figure should be but his earnings should certainly be more than a stock shuffler on Wall Street or a lobbyist in Sacramento or DC.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. 1styrpcp

    Not to mention...all the meanwhile for most doctors: love lives...signigicant others...relationships...kids...house...you know a life, cant happen until mid 30's while seeing the rest of the world start in their 20's.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. John W

    If you want to claim a doctor is underpaid and over worked, fine. At least take up a reasonable line of argument. A military physician makes the same pay as any other Captain, Major, or Lt. Col. They work more hours than you do, they risk their lives while saving others and on the whole complain very little about those thoughtless soldiers bleeding all over their scrubs. If you want to bemoan the debt you have incurred getting this world class education that 99.99% of the population can only dream of, then JOIN THE ARMY! They need doctors. They are willing to pay your school loans to get you into uniform. The only caveat is you have to serve your country. They especially need plastic surgeons. How about it Dr. Youn? Join the Army, get out of college loans and treat people who defend you. THEN you can talk about being under payed and over worked.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • KG

      I wish there was a "Like" button on this forum! You make an excellent point.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:36 | Report abuse |
    • janice

      Do you know anything about what it takes to be a military physician?!! First off, you have to go through physical military training in order to make it. While most physicians are very intelligent, they aren't physically competent of making it through the basic military training required which isn't a requirement of any doctor. Secondly,that is not an "easy" way out. Not only do you OWE the government years of medical expertise, you are not free to work where you want or pursue a traditional family life. Don't try to make it appear that they have a golden option in working for the FG...it's like saying go to the military if you can't afford college. That is not feasible for many Americans.

      May 1, 2012 at 14:12 | Report abuse |
  19. Jay Saini

    Seriously, comparing doctors to NFL players...
    How aboout PhD in Physics and other technical fields. A postdoc position pays $40K annual salary. This is after 4 years in BS, 2 yrs in MS and 4+ yrs in PhD. This is quite equivalent to amount of education that Physicians have. And consider this, PhD in Physics or Mathematics is probably toughest degree to earn. Yeah, they do not have any loans from their PhD, but there may have to work as Postdocs for 4-5 yrs before they get any faculty position or industrial appointment in the salary range 60-100K. Doctors can pay off their loans in two years while making 300-500K.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • rob

      What you fail to mention is the potential that those with a PhD have to make. Yes, postdoc pay sticks, but go work in private industry and you will make equivalent to most doctors, if not more. That is, unless you have zero social skills or work ethic.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:45 | Report abuse |
    • Minimed

      Most PhD programs provide stipends for their students and when students travel to interview for Postdocs, they don't pay for anything and get wined and dined. And are PhD students and Postdocs working 80 hour weeks: studying, working, preparing, and putting off their personal lives for the greater good? The answer is no.

      I work with PhDs, Postdocs, Medical residents and Docs and I can confidently say PhDs and Postdocs have the life. They work 40 hours a week, have very little in student loan debt, and can go home at night to their families (as long it isn't grant season) and have a life. Some of the attending physicians I work with have worked everyday for weeks...that is just their clinical duties, not counting paperwork, research, and catching up time.

      The average Joe needs to understand the cost for just trying to get into Medical school. Then Medical School students ramp upwards to $250K in debt since you can't work and go to school at the same time. So you have to not only pay for tuition and books and labs but also housing, food, travel for residency positions interviews, pay for the licensing exams, etc.

      So you are comparing apples and oranges.

      Anyone who knows the amount of money it takes to be a doctor and STAY being a practicing physician would completely agree that physicians are overburdened with debt and insurance premiums. If lawyers and engineers had the same hassles and debt ratio as physicians, they would complain about their salaries too...the system is broken, not the desire for physicians to be fairly compensated. I speak from the perspective of a former financial industry employee who is now a premedical student who is thinking of becoming a physician.

      And promptly changing my mind because the gross investment on my part doesn't look likely it will pay off in the end...

      May 1, 2012 at 13:57 | Report abuse |
  20. BillW

    Are you kidding me? If you are unhappy with your pay, do something else and stop whining. If doctors were routinely underpaid, why are there hordes of people every year willing to endure it? Altruism? A calling? Nonsense. It pays well and self agrandizing articles such as this one are nonsensical.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. modizzle18

    "Just for putting a ball in a hoop." Once I saw this line, the author's argument began to fizzle. I can put a ball in a hoop, I just can't get paid to do it, a big difference.
    Another thing, he never did disclose the Dr. Peterson's actual income, he is the victim for whom he should feel sympathy, right? Should we feel sympathy b/c he was stolen from or b/c he doesn't make enough? What is the point again?
    Also, if the insurance company really wants to get a check to the doctor, they should make a greater effort to get it there. From an administrative perspective, it is not a bright idea to send a check endorsed to an accident victim, presumably out of work, and then tell him to give it to someone else.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Anon

    These are the people that are responsible for saving your life. Do you really want them to be paid less? I know I don't.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • reply to anon

      couldn't agree more, especially given the education requirements and stress level. My 16-year-old daughter wants to go to medical school, but I have doubts about whether or not it's worth it. She's also going to want to be a mom, and it seems like a really stressful life. She is very interested in surgery but I wonder about whether or not she'd ever have any kind of balance in her life.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:32 | Report abuse |
  23. Ziggy

    This is a little over the top for me. The list of "comparable professions" is a bit ludicrous; lawyers ALSO have to go to graduate school (though there's no residency, though residents earn money, and their average is higher than lawyers), and orthodontists DO have residency requirements. I went to grad school and I make a pittance compared to all of these professions. But I'm not complaining like this guy. What Dave did is reprehensible- Dr. Peterson should send him bill after bill, then send the bill to a collection agency to go after Dave until he pays.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. kathat0

    Gees, talk about your cup being half empty! First:To practice medicine you're supposed to be doing something you love- luckyluckylucky Second: You make more than most people do that work just as hard or harder,Third: How much greking money do you need to feel compensated???Give me a break.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. CaptianObvious

    Docs and Dentists have the luxury of billing insurance whenever they feel like it. My wife recently had our third child. Of course, we went to the hospital and asked for an epidural. The doc was out golfing, so the procedure was done by his nurse anethtisist. It took all about 15 minutes from the time the nurse wheeled in the cart to the time he left the room. Final bill to insruance for the epidural procedure...over $800. Not a bad 15 minutes at the golf course. Americans need to realize that just because their insurance covers these fees does not mean that we are not all collectively paying for them.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Anon

    Even my dermatologist saves several lives every week by identifying skin cancers that may turn deadly. Very few professions are saddled with this level of responsibility and compensation should be higher accordingly.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. lucidanne

    LOL.. comparing doctors to NBA players... my pedatrician charged me $500 for my child to get one set of immunizations... the NBA never tried to rip me off like that...

    May 1, 2012 at 13:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • KG

      Apparently you've never tried to take your family to a professional sporting event. On another note, think about what you said. You were charged $500 for immunizations. Blame the pharmaceutical companies because they set the price levels for those immunizations. That is another topic altogether though. I am sure the pharmaceutical companies have to recoup their R&D costs somewhere.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:40 | Report abuse |
    • TJ

      Nobody in the NBA can save your child's life, either. If you don't like it, don't get your kid immunized. Use the money to go to NBA games instead, since they are so charitable and don't ripp you off.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:40 | Report abuse |
    • Danielle

      Then don't get your child immunized. When they contract measles ask the NBA to treat it.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:42 | Report abuse |
    • hrider2012

      The immunizations cost a doctor a great deal of money. Believe me, the reimbusement from an insurance company for a shot may take 3 months to collect and the doctor is lucky to recoup what he pays for the immunization, or make a $10 profit on each shot if he is lucky. He also has to put up the money up front to buy them, and risks losing all that money if the shots are not used and they go bad. There is a lot more to it than you realize.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:53 | Report abuse |
  28. ?mark

    Welcome to the club of the under paid. I'm a motion graphic artist with ten more years to pay on my student loans and I'm about $10k under paid. It's in every industry except banking and politicians. They seem to be doing just fine, but then again, it's easy when you are a professional thief.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Adam

    Do you think that sort of thing doesn't happen to a business outside the medical industry? Deadbeats are not unique to that industry. If Dr. Peterson doesn't want to deal with issues like this then perhaps he should leave his private practice and work on staff for a hospital.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Richard Miller

    Oh quit whining! You have a job and so many others don't. How about giving up a couple of exotic vacations and a couple of houses, you play horse ranch, the six car garage, six week vacations when the rest of us don't get one, etc.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • TJ

      but I like my exotic cars, horse ranches, lavish vacations, etc. I'll only have to give them up if Obama wins again. In which case, I will go into another field and still make a ton of cash.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:43 | Report abuse |
    • Danielle

      You completely have no clue. Please don't make any comments until you do some research

      May 1, 2012 at 13:44 | Report abuse |
  31. David Baldwin

    The Doctors have rigged the system so only a few can attend Medical SchoolI there by keeping prices high,,, they understand that if there were more Doctors thier incomes wpould go down... No Doctors live in my Middle Class Neighborhood... . they have huge houes and drive cars more expensive than my house... I really don't care how much they get paid, I assume they earned it but complaning about it?????

    May 1, 2012 at 13:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. mike

    "One-quarter of critical care physicians spend more than 65 hours per week with their patients, not including time doing paperwork."

    65 hours a week comes to $71 an hour 52 weeks a year, whether on vacation or working. The other 3/4 that spend, say, 50 hours a week: $92 an hour. I see nothing to complain about. They'll complain as they get in their brand new Jaguar.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • TJ

      Benz. I used to have a Jaguary....horrible maintainence problems. Trust me, brother, go with the Benz!

      May 1, 2012 at 13:45 | Report abuse |
  33. Rob K

    QUESTIONS: Is medical care different from other services we purchase? Why do insurance companies do well financially but not so with Docs? Who do you think should really get our dollars – the Docs or Insurance companies? Why aren't there more medical schools and therefore more Docs in the US? Is the AMA or other organizations limiting the number of Med schools and Med students in the US? Why is Med school so expensive? Why isn't there a program to reduce educational debt for Docs who work in under served areas or low paying specialties? Who benefits from Docs putting in ridiculously long hours especially at the beginning of their careers when they should be alert and learning? People and Docs make errors – we need a better system of caring for patients who have bad outcomes. Malpractice lawsuits are a Red Herring and are not the answer when there are bad outcomes?
    Finally: When lawyers commit malpractice they get disbarred and cannot get a new license by moving to another state. Studies show there is a small group of Doctors who commit malpractice over and over again. But even in the rare occasion they lose their State license to practice they move to another state and get another license. There are a lot of problems with delivering health care and paying Docs an appropriate salary is one of them. Insurance companies control the game and know how to play it better than anyone. Where do you want your money to go – Docs or Insurance companies?

    May 1, 2012 at 13:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • KG

      Again, where is that "like" button when you need it?

      May 1, 2012 at 13:41 | Report abuse |
  34. KindaSorta

    Dave is an ungreatful thief! Bet he drank the $3,200. up. Why did the insurance company not mail the check to the doctor?

    May 1, 2012 at 13:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. atxhomer

    His anecdote about the insurance company sending money to the patient is just not true. As someone who deals with insurance companies and reimbursement issues all the time, the only way the patient would be sent a check is if he had paid all the bills to the doctor upfront. Basically this story is a lie.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • TJ

      you really have no idea what you are talking about, do you?

      May 1, 2012 at 13:48 | Report abuse |
    • kanjaji

      Correct and a very good point. That is the way it is today.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:50 | Report abuse |
    • Nancy

      Not necessarily. You see those AFLAC commercials and that old Physician's Mutual insurance (usually found in the Sunday newspaper ads and comics area), that pays you, as long as you can show them a doctor bill. It was not a receipt, but the doctor bill you send a copy of to them and they send you the money. Or some of the old "this pays YOU to be in the hospital" ads. That is the type of insurance apparently Mr. Dave had. Now, you understand why docs have you sign that little line that says the insurance pays them directly.

      May 1, 2012 at 14:35 | Report abuse |
  36. scottfreeze

    Uhhh, in a bad year I will work 12 hours out of every 18 (16 out of every 24) for 9 months a year whilst under water in a nuclear submarine, and my off time doesn't include going out very much. After 2.5 months of this, I get 2 days off and 1 day of strutting around in 120 degree weather while wearing a bullet proof vest, then we shut the hatch again for another 2.5 months. When we finally come home I will be greeted with working 18 or so hours a day until the good times of going out to sea are here again. Anybody want to guess what I make compared to a NBA star?

    I honestly don't complain about it at all. This is the profession I chose and I only mention it because I hate hearing people complain about the choices they have made for themselves.

    If you are a doctor, good for you. You deserve every bit of a 100k salary. This is far more than you need to live on.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. David

    It would be interesting to comapre doctor's wages to the staff, adminstrators, manages, CEO's, board memebers, and investors of typical medical insurance companies and HMOs. What also may be interesting is a breakdown of the average monies paid to a HMO or insurance company - what percentage actually goes towards medical services, facilities, insurance staff wages, insurance bonuses, lobbyists, insurance managers and CEOs, and investors.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Tony

    I work in finance in the healthcare industry. I see what MD make and what hours they put in. I know, for instance, most MD could get their medical school PAID for, if they agree to work in a certain (usually small) community for a certain # of years. In addition, they can get ALL of their loans PAID by a hospital, if they agree to work in that community a certain number of years. Other perks they get: (1) The Hospital will paid them income subsidies if they don't make as much money as they want. Hospitals do this to attract the MD to a community. So MD rarely have to worry about people not paying. If the patient doesn't pay them, the hospital will. (2) "Free" Staff. If the MD wants to hire a new staff member for their practice, they can get the hospital to pay for that person. (3) Employed physicians. If a physician doesn't want to worry about anything, just force the hospital to hire you. You get the same pay, no expenses, no worry about patients not paying. The only compromise is that you have to work the hours the hospital wants you to work (No taking off when you want to play golf). (4) Paid malpractice. MD are always complaining about the cost of malpractice insurance. YES, it is outrageously expensive. No worry, have the hospital pay it for you if they want to attract you to the community. (5) Free food. When the MD is on-duty, they get all of their meals free.
    Bottom line: If the MD plays his cards right, he can get all of the money and not worry about any of the expenses. It is no mystery that virtually ALL MD, except maybe family practice, are miliionaires many times over by the time they retire. It is also no mystery why MD from other countries want to come to U.S. to practice. They may make $12K a year in their country, but $250K in the US. Makes you wonder if a MD that is only worth $12K in their country is competent to make $250K in the US. So what is meant by "overpaid"? Is a MD that was making $12K and is now making $250K, doing the same thing, overpaid?

    May 1, 2012 at 13:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. JR

    "Just for putting a ball in a hoop" This statement is patently stupid. Professional sports players, concert musicians, etc. have put AT LEAST as many hours at their profession as engineers, lawyers, doctors, etc. have put into their formal education. If it was as simple as all that, why doesn't Dr. Man just go start putting that ball up there then? Maybe he can pick up a guitar and just start pulling on the strings and make millions. I expect less hyperbole and more truth from a highly educated professional.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Skipper

    I know of no doctors on food stamps, living in govt subsidised housing, or on medicaid. They chose their profession...to help people or to make big bucks? All the complaints about time in school etc are things well known before they begin their training. No one forced them to become doctors. Stop whinning.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. DMA

    Government and Insurance companies dictate what Doctors get paid in the Good Ole USA. If you think differently, you don't know how billing works for those who participate with Insurance. Many times rates are paid in percentages- as in 50% of billable. Guess how you compensate for that? If you have to pay a couple humdred thousand in student loans and spend 40 to 50% of your life in training for the job, I think whatever the expected pay is supposed to be, anything less is underpayment.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. kerkie

    um, anyone wondering how some guy gets to keep money intended for his physician? last time i checked, my insurance company pays my doctors or their billing offices directly for my care.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Nancy

      I was curious on that too...my insurance company pays my doc directly, I never see any check or anything...Must be nicver to have that kind of insurance. But then again, that might be part of the reason why the doctors cry wa-wa about money.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:41 | Report abuse |
  43. Marin

    Well, it is certainly true that many doctors I've known have brought up the issue of student loans along with all the years of training as a justification for such high income. However, I also know a classics major who has done important research in his field who also went to four years of college, 4 years till PhD, plus 2 years of postdoctoral (read that minimum wage, almost). He will be lucky if he ever makes $100,000 a year, or anywhere near that. And his loans are enormous. Therefore, years of training and money owed is no justification for the high salary, as anyone in academia should be able to prove. In the end, you do what you do because you love it. Anything else is just greed once the $$ becomes so much.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Nancy

    I can understand the numbers game, but please...gentlemen. I feel for the unfortunate experience with "Dave", but most of us have turned into "Dave's" as we are not treated as equals, but as cattle with how many seen, etc when all we see are the trappings of $100,000 vehicles (Gee, why do you feel you have to have that Mercedes?), exotic vacations, McMansions on Snob Hill (Let's see your family is only 4 big, yet you have to have that million dollar mansion with too many rooms, why?), and McCabins in the Mountins (oh so you can get away from it all, gee, must be nice to get away), so do not cry to me about fair pay.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Jenna

    My father is a surgeon and he has done well for himself. He spent several years in medical school, then a few years as a resident, then a few for his fellowship. He wasn't a fully-fledged doctor until his 30s!
    What people don't realize is that unlike teachers (who are yes, underpaid), doctors go through MUCH more schooling and training and IF they are lucky will end up at a well-renowned hospital.
    These men and women don't get summer breaks or winter breaks like teachers. They are on call at all hours of the evening, and are expected to drop whatever they're doing to tend to their patients. If you are a family member of someone in the medical field, then you are well aware how many Thanksgivings, Birthdays, and Christmases have been sacrificed so that the patients could be cared for.
    Aside from a surgeon at a regular hospital, my father also works at a VA hospital- TAKING CARE OF VETERANS! Doctors are most definitely underpaid and I will defend that statement until the end of time.

    My father also conducts research on Melanoma and treatment and prevention. He isn't just cutting people up and removing their tumors, he's finding ways to stop skin cancer completely. Many doctors who truly care about their patients are not in it simply for the money. If people didn't have skin cancer, my dad wouldn't have a business, per-say. But when he's not in the operating room, he's hitting the books and trying to find a way to stop skin cancer completely.

    I can't say if every doctor is this good, because honestly, I'm biased and think my dad is the most amazing man in the world. But I can honestly say that if a doctor is as dedicated to helping people as my dad is, then YES. They are underpaid.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Adam

      Your dad chose his own profession knowing what was involved and how much money he would most likely make. The real issue is the cost of education and not how hard you work vs how much money you make.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:42 | Report abuse |
  46. horsesmouth

    This is an age-old argument about compensation. As the argument goes: those who perform the NECESSARY services for us to carry on, realistically, should be better compensated. So people like doctors, who provide such services should see more for their time than a basketball player. But the argument fails in that context. Garbage men are a necessary profession in modern society. Without them, our streets would be littered with garbage and surely this would pose an enormous burden to our health. Therefore, those in the sanitation field provide a necessary service that we can't live without – much like doctors. But what it really comes down to – is the time (and MONEY) invested in earning your degree. As someone in law school, I understand that putting in all this time and money should be rewarded down the line. Granted, lawyers aren't necessarily a pivotal need of the everyday person, but surely a pivotal need for society as a whole (say what you will about lawyers – when you need one, you go running to one – again, much like a doctor). Compensation should be commensurate with investment in your area along with your skill in that area when you join your field. If you don't want basketball players making millions to shoot hoops, stop watching the games, stop going to the games. They get paid off of your involvement. If you don't pay attention, they don't get paid their high salary

    May 1, 2012 at 13:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. medical specialist

    I'm a specialist but have never complained about my salary. I'm in academic medicine so while I'm a specialist, I make what primary care docs make in private practice. My primary colleagues who do complain about salary are amazingly out of touch with reality. I know people who'd give their left hand to receive a salary of an average primary care physician. These are the docs who complain the most. Your residency in terms of hours and length are nothing compared to a surgeon or OB-GYN or just about any other specialist. You made your own bed and knew exactly what you were getting into. So, how can you complain that your salary? Why should a surgeon who had a much harder and longer residency, one who takes much more of a liability everytime he or she cuts, take a pay cut in lines with a primary care doc? Doesn't make any sense to me.

    The differences in salary reflect differencse in training and provided services. The liability costs of operating is far more expensive than checking someone's ear for a possible infection. Docs need to stop complaining about salaries because we are not going to win any sympathy from anyone.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. stephanie H

    I also agree with Heather. The nurse and assistant is the one I see more and have things be explained while the doctor goes "here" with prescription tab. Doctors have a lot of their patient time done for them and sad nurse/assistants are not compensated equally or more.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • scarf

      You see the nurse more because he/she is taking care of 4-6 patients. The doctor is taking care of 25-50.

      May 1, 2012 at 13:54 | Report abuse |
  49. beachobx

    As a university professor at a large state school, I spent 4 years in college, 6 years in graduate school and 2 years as a post-doc – about the same number of years of training as a medical doctor. I also had debt. After 25 years of teaching classes, doing research (that has led to nearly 40 million dollars in savings for several county governments) and doing free consulting work for non-profits, my annual salary is $120,000. I don't have summers off – research goes on full time. I work weekends – labs still have to be run on the weekends. The point of all this is ... medical doctors are not the only ones who go through YEARS of intensive training. My work doesn't save lives but it does contribute to the common good. Before I embarked on becoming a PhD, I knew what to expect in compensation but it's the career I wanted. Healthcare reform started in the early 1990s before many present-day physicians decided upon their present careers. So, I'm wondering didn't MDs know what they were gettting into?

    May 1, 2012 at 13:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • medical specialist

      Yes. That's why I get irritated to no end when I see my colleagues complain about 6 figure salaries. Just exactly who are they trying to get sympathies from?

      May 1, 2012 at 14:03 | Report abuse |
  50. Tim

    Get ready for a massive brain drain out of medicine and into jobs that offer more predictable work hours, vacations, guaranteed benefits, minimal personal financial liability, geographic portability, opportunities for creativity, emotional rewards from grateful clients, lower opportunity costs and less deferred gratification, more quality time with one's family, and a compensation schedule that fairly reimburses and recognizes better performance. If a lawyer takes twice as much time to write up a brief for his client's case as the client expected, he gets paid for his doubled time. If a surgeon takes twice as long to perform an operation as is "typical," he does half as many cases and under pay-for-performance measures, might end up getting paid even less, or possibly nothing, if a complication happens despite his every effort to prevent it.

    May 1, 2012 at 13:39 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.