Do Doctors Get Paid Too Little?

Why Are They Griping?

Medical experts said they felt the Medscape survey was probably an accurate portrayal of doctors’ feelings across the country.

They added that there seem to be a number of reasons for their discontentment.

One is the number of years physicians spend in college, medical school, and then in training. Many doctors don’t get their first jobs until they are 30. By that time, other college graduates have been earning salaries for eight years or so.

Most medical graduates also step into the workforce with $200,000 to $300,000 in educational debt.

“Their compensation reflects their time and commitment to their field,” said Jamieson.

Wergin pointed to his son, who is just getting his first job in the medical field at the age of 30. His debt tops $200,000.

“It’s a lot of sacrifice and a lot of hours,” Wergin said.

Another reason is the service doctors provide to society.

“They’re dealing with people’s health and people’s lives,” said Wergin. “Especially in small towns, not many people can take their place.”

That’s especially true of specialists, who reflected higher dissatisfaction in the survey.

People should probably want their physicians to be paid a lot, Jamieson said.

“How comfortable would we be with a doctor who is making 15 dollars an hour?” she said.

Changes in the medical field may be fueling some of the discontent, too. Specialists who used to work on their own and garner 100 percent of their fees may now work for a medical group or hospital and only get a portion of that.

Many doctors are also being asked to perform more administrative tasks and perhaps see more patients.

“Like a lot of people, they are being asked to do more with less,” said Jamieson.

Both Wergin and Jamieson said compensation might start to climb in the near future. One reason is the emerging emphasis on quality care over quantity of care.

Jamieson said some medical institutions are starting to add bonuses and other enhancements for doctors who do good work.

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