Tuesday, March 04, 2008

On Salaries and Medical Specialties

A friend of mine sent me a link a while back comparing wages in primary care versus specialties (PDF).

Damn. Poor primary care docs.

The piece raises several interesting points about how reimbursements (and thus, salaries) are determined for physicians in the United States. The system is clearly skewed towards the specialists. I don't think this should necessarily affect the decision medical students face when choosing whether to specialize or not, but in the future, it will be interesting to see whether the pendulum swings the other way as the population ages and demand grows for primary care doctors relative to specialists. The market will solve everything, right?


  1. Bad news for people like me considering Family Medicine.

  2. Heh, well, keep in mind that physicians still do fairly well compared to other professions in terms of salary.

    Another thing that I wish were mentioned but rarely is in these salary discussions is how many hours people spend at work. I take this number as a proxy for quality of life. Instead of just salary, people should consider a figure I call the "Salary/Quality Quotient" or SQQ. The SQQ is simply one's salary divided by how many hours per week they work. Using this concept, a person making $100k but working only 10 hours per week is equivalent to someone making $1mil but working 100 hours per week. Of course, a better formula would use other coefficients, but I think the SQQ helps to compare different specialties in terms of true earning potential. So, perhaps Family Medicine doctors may not earn as much income as surgeons, but if the Family Medicine physician only works half the hours, then perhaps the salary difference is not so great. Just my two cents.



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