Angry Doctor

Thursday, April 12, 2007

How much is that doctor in the window? 6

How much money should a doctor make?

Events over the past two weeks have prompted angry doc to mull over this question which he should have asked himself (and given himself a satisfactory answer to) years ago, but never did.

Money was a major consideration when angry doc was a mere stripling (yet to earn his spear or first penny) having to make the choice in school subjects which would eventually decide his future career (well, it seemed that way then...). You see, angry doc decided to work towards getting into medical school because he thought the healthcare is about helping people and not about money at all. Like Dr Crippen, he too had the idea that the financial renumeration from practising medicine would keep him 'reasonably comfortable', so he did not bother finding out how much money he stood to make if he decided to go to business or law school instead. Doctors, he thought, got a good pay doing a good thing.

Of course, we all now know how wrong he was: healthcare isn't always about helping people, but it is always about money, and some doctors struggle to make ends meet and maintain a work-life balance. But I digress...

angry doc is of course not the first doctor (or person) to mull over the question of how much doctors should be paid. A quick search on google turns up this article by Dr Bottle, which in turn refers to two other articles (one by Dr Atul Gawande and the other by Dr Gunderman). Together the articles address the ethical and practical issues of 'physician compensation'. They do not tell angry doc how to come up with an exact figure of how much doctors should be paid, but then that's not what the authors set out to do.

There will probably never be a 'right' answer to angry doc's question; as Dr Gunderman wrote in his article: "[w]here you stand on physicians' incomes depends in part from where you sit". Patients and third-party payers will always want to pay as little as they can, and doctors will always want to be paid an amount which they feel gives them fair renumeration for their efforts and the risks they bear.

How one chooses to think about the question is perhaps already decided by what answer one wants to arrive at.

5 Comments:

  • I am not sure if I would have become a doctor if I was not respected or appreciated for what I do. This is why I am a doctor and not a nurse.

    I am also not sure if I would have become a doctor if I was given the same salary as a physical therapist, but expected to work the hours that I do and take on the responsibilities of decision-making, prescribing and patient care.

    So, I guess I am in it for the money.

    By Blogger tscd, At April 13, 2007 12:06 am  

  • show me anyone who tells you that money is not a factor in them being or staying a doctor.

    and i'll show you a liar.

    By Anonymous Jeffrey Leow, At April 13, 2007 6:11 pm  

  • tscd,

    But you chose to enter the highest-paid profession in the healthcare sector, and not the highest-paid profession, so you're not in it for just the money either!

    By Blogger angry doc, At April 13, 2007 6:15 pm  

  • jeffrey,

    I doubt I can produce any doctor who can honestly say that money is not a factor in him or her becoming or staying a doctor.

    But I think I can find many who can honestly say that money is not the reason in them becoming or staying a doctor.

    By Blogger angry doc, At April 13, 2007 6:27 pm  

  • If you replaced the word doctor with Minister in your entire blog entry it would still make sense.

    And we just devoted several days of Straits Times covering in 5-6 pages about such a dilemma.

    But of course doctors don't deserve such coverage and consideration. Only Ministers do.

    That's life. :)

    By Blogger Dr Oz bloke, At April 13, 2007 7:15 pm  

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