Career selection is a very difficult task for most people. In choosing a career, one must consider personal interests, skills, resources as well as the scope of any field. The earnings that come with a particular job stand, till today, as one of the most important factors in deciding one’s career.
The profession of medicine has been present on earth for centuries, and, till today, it continues to attract thousands of people worldwide.
Doctors are known to have a handsome pay, and this factor alone acts like a magnet, pulling a large number of students to choose medicine as their profession. But the curiosity remains….
How much do doctors earn anyway?
In USA, if we estimate the average annual income of “all” the doctors then it comes around to be almost $299,000. But wait! That’s not the complete answer to this question. The annual income of the different types of doctors as well as that of doctors living in different areas varies greatly from one another.
Thus, the income depends upon factors such as where they are employed, have they specialized in any area of medicine or not, and if yes, then what is their speciality, which speciality is in demand, and are they engaged in public practice or private.
Likewise, if one had to take loans to complete his studies, then the net income is definitely reduced by returning all those loans. Let’s take a look at all these factors one by one.
The Location of Employment
A doctor’s pay usually shows the level of competition in his location of employment. Working in a place like New York or California would mean lesser earnings as compared to someone working in Wisconsin.
It seems astonishing at first but it’s quite logical if you look at the fact that more people opt places with more resources and development, like New York, as compared to places like Wisconsin.
As there are plenty of doctors available in new york, the hospitals can hire them at a lower pay. Whereas in Wisconsin, hospital authorities have to attract doctors by offering them a higher salary.
Primary Care VS Specialist
Throughout the world, it is a common observation that primary care doctors earn less as compared to specialists. In the US, the annual income of a primary care doctor is approximately $220,000, whereas that of a specialist is approximately $330,000.
Which speciality to choose is a challenging task for many doctors. There are so many specialties out there, some related to procedures, such as neurosurgery, cardiosurgery and plastic surgery, while others are non-procedure specialties including pediatrics and family medicine.
On average, specialities involving procedures tend to have a higher salary than non procedure specialties. According to the data given on Medscape.com, neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery, plastic surgery, cardiology, and gastroenterology are among the top paid specialties in the US.
Like in any other field, the demand of the people has a huge impact on the income of a particular medical speciality. To understand this, consider the example of psychiatry.
In the US, the massive increase in the number of psychiatric patients, as well as the increase in attempts of suicide at an alarming rate, is an evidence of the increased demand for doctors specializing in psychiatry.
Thus, as compared to before, the average annual physician compensation for psychiatrists has increased. Hence, we can say that greater the demand, higher the pay.
Loans taken during Education
In the US, many students have to take loans in order to persue higher education. The lack of understanding in regards to dealing with financial obstacles puts the medical students under a huge burden of debt by the time they finally start earning. Interests on these loans simply adds to their debt and reduces the net amount earned each year.
This also highlights the need to educate students about various student loan programs and schemes and to teach them efficient ways to pay off their debt without having to lose a fortune later on.
Private VS Public
Private doctors have a financial advantage over public doctors. This is true not only in US but also in other countries. However, despite this financial advantage, doctors prefer public service over private due to the extra burden of dealing with business related issues in private practice.
Here, it is usually a dilemma of choosing between more income or mental health.
Thus, we can conclude that all the doctors, on average, are earning a fairly good sum in the US, amounting at the very least a few hundred thousand dollars per year.
The journey to becoming a practising doctor in the US is not easy. After spending so much time and money, a medical graduate finally gets the chance to earn for himself, and his hard work begins to pay off.
But, in order to practise in the US, every medical graduate, be it a local American or a foreign medical graduate, must pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination, or USMLE in short. USMLE is a three-step exam taken by thousands of medical graduates each year.
In the world of medicine, this exam is considered one of the toughest tests conducted to see if a medical graduate is qualified to step foot in the actual field.
After such a long academic, physical and financial struggle, those who land a job can finally take a sigh of relief, and hope for the start of an easier journey ahead. Considering the years of effort spent just to enter this profession, it is only logical for doctors to be rewarded with a good pay.
A doctor is a humanitarian who spends almost his entire life saving others. Therefore, I believe that doctors deserve to be given respect, appreciation and due compensation.
Ayesha Rafi is a medical student living with her family in Islamabad. For long, she has used social media to convey her word to the world. She has recently entered the world of freelancing. Find more about her on facebook