Doctors Are Not as Rich as You Think

Doctors Are Not as Rich as You Think

If being a doctor is the first thing you think of when somebody asks about top-paying jobs, you are not alone. Surgeons, cardiologists, and other medical practitioners are some of the highest-paid people in the world. That is an undeniable fact.

Despite all that, the majority of doctors (68%) say that the impression of their highly-paid salaries is largely overblown. Let’s look at what doctors actually say about their own salaries.

To start, let’s discuss the overwhelming amount of education and training doctors have to go through before earning that six-figure income.

Education and training takes a long time

Most doctors do not become independent physicians before the age of 30. They first have to go into residency, which can last up to eight years. The length of working in residency varies with each specialization.

Residency is paid, with an average annual salary of around $63,000. This may or may not be a decent salary as it highly depends on where you live and other personal circumstances.

For example, if you live in Los Angeles, where the average annual salary is $76,000, then you would find it hard to make ends meet, especially if you have a family.

By the age of thirty, most medical students have a student debt between $200,000 and $300,000. This can take many years to pay off.

Also, it is important to mention that some surgeons have indicated working 120 hours a week (a week has 168 hours) for an average of five years—whoa!

Compare this with someone who spends around fifteen hours a week inside of a classroom and gets their degree after only two years and then starts earning a steady income without student debt.

If you take all of this into account becoming a physician sounds like a tough road.

The average doctor does not drive a supercar

If you take a look inside a doctor’s garage, you may be surprised to find a ten-year-old SUV instead of a red sports car. Also, the garage is attached to an average suburban family house, rather than a magnificent two-story villa.

Of course, this all depends on what the doctor’s priorities in life…And it does not mean that no doctor has such luxuries. But most doctors have a slightly above-average standard of living. Unlike CEOs, bankers, or entrepreneurs, doctors often work for someone else, which inherently limits their income.

If a doctor owns a private clinic, the doctor still has to pay the salaries of all medical staff, which can end up being quite a lot. 

What does “rich” even mean anymore?

You may have seen TV doctors that look extremely rich with their fashionable designer clothes and their fleets of luxury cars, but that does not have to mean anything.

Simply put, being wealthy is much more important than being rich. A wealthy doctor has assets that are sustainable and can last. Wealthy doctors are those who know how to make money and, as such, they can never become poor.

A wealthy doctor will not squander money frivolously like it grows on trees and will instead try to live a modest life while investing the surplus into a retirement plan, stocks, or something else.

Salaries vary by specialty

In general, it is agreed that all doctors have an above-average income. This does not mean that all doctors get the same salary, as you probably already know.

It is a well-known fact that different types of surgeons and cardiologists are one of the highest-paid types of doctors. Still, there are huge differences even between surgeon salaries.

  • A neurosurgeon earns around $650,000 on average, while a general surgeon earns around $352,000. That is a difference of $298,000, which is by no means a small amount.
  • On the other end of the scale, the lowest-paid physicians are geriatricians, who take care of the elderly, earn an average of $188,000 annually. They are followed by primary care physicians, who earn around $230,000. Next come pediatricians, with an average of $240,000.

The downside of working in the medical industry

As previously mentioned, physicians do not start independent work before the age of 30 and are often overwhelmed with debt. Also, residents have to work many hours every week without having a decent income. Despite all this, there are even more problems that can arise from insurance complications.

Many patients have experienced issues with insurance companies. In some cases, insurance companies refuse to pay physicians, and if the patient does not have the money, the doctor is usually the one that absorbs the loss.

Regulations and insurance requirements play a huge part in how the doctor earns money. Doctors are displeased by insurance companies that prevent them from doing what their ultimate goal in life is— taking care of people.

Lastly, physicians are often accused of malpractice. This is when malpractice insurance companies come into play. They protect the doctor from medical malpractice claims, but just like health insurance companies, they are not easy to work with.

Doctors deserve more

To conclude, doctors are everyday heroes who may or may not be rich, depending on your definition of the word. If you take into account the years that doctors have to spend studying and working in residency, perhaps it is not even worth the financial benefits that they get to enjoy.

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