Once upon a time, when I was still in junior high school, I aspired to be a doctor.  Why?  For all the wrong reasons.  First, because my parents wanted me to be one, and second because it was a profession that made a lot of money.  Fortunately, after doing some research in high school about what’s required to be a doctor, I realized that being a doctor is not about the money, it’s about the passion for practicing medicine.

It takes real commitment to be a physician.  To become a specialist, it takes at least a decade of training/education, long hours, low pay, and a large amount of loans (for some) to finally make it to the big leagues.  Even once you’ve graduated, most specialties require long hours along with periodically being on call.

Back to the topic at hand, doctor salaries.  When most of you think about doctor salaries, most think that they are paid like rock stars.  There are some numbers thrown around like some make $500,000/year and more, which is true for some, but not for all.  While the initial figures are high, doctors have to pay a rather large overhead fee which doesn’t include income tax.  This overhead fee includes insurance coverage, a provincial government fee and other misc expenses.

Below is a table that is a bit dated (2005), but includes the average salaries of various doctor specialties in Canada.  I added a third column to the original table to include the overhead as a percentage of their salary.

Gross and net earnings rose in 2005
Gross Net Overhead
Dermatologists $360,000 $240,000 33.0%
Internists $310,000 $200,000 35.5%
Ob/gyns $320,000 $195,000 40.4%
Pediatricians $250,000 $160,000 36.0%
Psychiatrists $190.000 $160.000 15.8%
GPs $260,000 $155,000 40.4%

As you can see from the table, the average doctor pays around 35% of their salary to overhead fees.  What’s left over is then taxed at the highest income tax rate.  Mind you, making a $155,000+ salary (in 2005) is pretty darn good, but for the work and time commitment that doctors put in, they deserve more.

Back to you, was your impression that doctors make more than they actually do?

Any doctor readers out there?  Have doctor salaries increased much since 2005?

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195 Comments

  1. Strap on November 27, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    KM,
    I feel for you as it took my wife several attempts before she got it. Here is some unsolicited advice. The 3 most important things: high undergrad grades, good MCAT, and good extra-curricular which is all wrapped in a well written application. If one of these is missing, ie grades or MCAT then it’s a serious impediment, and work to rectify (redo some undergrad grades – yes look into this and get high MCAT).

    Blindly chasing graduate work in sciences is not the answer for all schools. Some schools (talking Canada and Ontario specifically) do not put much, if any, emphasis on graduate work. U of T does have a separate Grad pool of applicants, so it CAN help there. My wife does did graduate work, published high impact, and was respected in her sciences degree which is actually under the Fac of Med. I recall researching at the time Uni. Western Ont and McMasters and it didn’t seem that Grad work helped.

    In a good/bad way, there are not enough medicine spots because our healthcare system is government controlled and a monopoly which is also kept reined in by the Royal College, CMA, OMA and other organizations in a union like way to protect their jobs, pay and lifestyle. It’s bad because we don’t have a free market in choosing/getting good doctors, on our terms, with good service and essentially are takers. It’s good for me and my family because my family will benefit through my wife has a stable, high paying, high demand job with little outside competition because of the regulations..

    Although this goes against what you preach, you might consider countries that have reciprocal agreements (think Australia, maybe Ireland as Ontario is accepting Int. Med Grad (IMG)) and there are several in my wife’s residency.

  2. Doc2be on December 11, 2009 at 12:28 am

    Hi there
    iam a doc2be,iam in my late 20s turning 30 next year,I read every single word posted on here,i value all your opnions and i thing changed my mind.
    I have passion and inspiration to become a doctor,love helping people.but i think that iam too old to follow that route of becaming a doctor as it takes a good deal of extra years.
    is there anyone with idea of what i should do to help underplevileged instead of medicine?

  3. anengineerstake on December 22, 2009 at 8:12 pm

    This certainly is an interesting post with many varying replies and opinions. I myself am an engineer having graduated with a degree in mechanical and then chemical engineering from Canada. There was a point in life where I considered pursuing a career in medicine though decided against it since I enjoy what I do (with days of complaning, which is typical to any professsion in all honesty).

    My two cents on this topic, I do believe Doctor’s compensations are unfair when you take an engineering standpoint. There have been many times when I have visited a GP clinic with my tummy aching only to find out that most of the diagnosis process was first based on history (doctors knoweldge) and then on medical technologies (engineered developed technologies) ie, Ultrasounds, MRI’s and all the other fancy gadgets that are used by the medical field. When it came to the former ie, doctor compentency there have been only a handful of doctors who have takent he sincere interest to determine what was wrong with the patient and using the knoweldge they gained in medical were able to diagnosis 9 out of 10 times the excat cause of a particular aliment (this is what I call experience) perhaps the same applies to engineers or any other professional folks.

    The rest of the GP’s relied on two approaches, one was to carry out the basis tests (cbc, alk phs, etc) and wait for a hematologist or pathologist or radiologist’s knoweldge of what was wrong with a person. Not to mention in the meantime the patient was suffering his or her share of pain till a firm diagnosis could be estabilished. The other approach viz a viz reffering to a Specalisit when it was beyond the scope of the GP, again this takes quite a long time in some parts of Canada. Finally, the patient visits the specialist who more than experience relies (atleast in the present era on sophisticated techology to diagnose a particular disease, typically CAT’s, PETs, MRI for disease as varied as cancers.

    Then it comes to the actual skill ie, when specialisits perform surgeries and other physical procedures. This I believe can truly be attributed to a skill that a specailisit doctor should have would have learned during his Medical school and practice (ie experience).

    So to me, all the years of medical schooling and all the high pay becomes pretty meaningless when the entire diagnosis rests on techonologies developed by engineers who are not compensated as much as doctors especially GPs. As far as responsiblities go, there are only a few GPs who are willing to take on responsiblities about making accurate diagnosis or taking calcuated risks in making headway in alievating patient suffering. Most of them shy away from the legalities involved and refer the patients to specialists again. So I do not really comprehened the talk about high medical insruances (which don’t really get used up much atleast not in canada) cause the GP either prescribes tylenol or suggests a wait and watch approach.

    I still try to imagine a world of Doctors minus all the fancy gadgets, ie PET , MRI, scans, or for that matter even X-rays (result of experiements in particle physics) but the compentation, ie Doc vs engineers, Doc vs physicists, doc vs any other professions in North America still seem to ellude me cause it defines my logic.

    I do not believe that Doctors salaries could be lowered (certainly not increase) . They have put a lot of time in school memorizing tons of stuff and paying highly to the school. However, the profession and the salary should reassess and realign itself with the real world.

    Personally I do not really understand how all the time, money and energy spent in medical school translates to better healthcare. It ulimately boils down to a business, a business of making and generating money.

    This post is not ment to undermine doctors (atleast not all doctors) in anyway, but just a way to see if all the compensation (high or low based on different opinions) is really worth the service we as patients or consumers get overall from the canadian health care system.

  4. lily on December 27, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    This is a great topic and really helpful for anyone considering MD career. I am 36, worked in pharmacy, and now studying nursing undergrad at Mcmaster. I am considering medical school. However, I know that my age is a limiting factor, so I am only considering McMaster school. They accept after 3 years of undergrad, and medical school is 3 full years. From what I read residency for FP is 2 years and for some specialties 4. By 42-44 I can start working and paying my debt. Competition is great but it is possible to get in with high udregrad marks, MCAT scores and strong authobiography. I always wanted to be a doctor and after many unconventional circumstancies( including the war, refuge, starting family and immigration to Canada) that led me to postpone it, I still want it. I will do because I love it, and after I considered all the downsides and tried easier careers/pathways, I still want it. Don’t get me wrong I love nursing. I just think I would be happier as a doctor. I am glad that this profession is well compesated in Canada. You could be a brilliant student, and amazing doctor but if you are not compensated for it ( and I mean really low salaries in developing countries), your enthusiasm and compassion will soon vanish, you will get bribed by patients and become bitter, prejudiced and unhappy doctor. I understand all the arguments pro and con high salaries for doctors or any other profession. It the end it is personal choice what to do for living. How much time and money you invest in education and how much satisfaction and compensation you get from your job you should consider before embarking into the chosen school/profession. I would not compare the responsibilities, salaries jobs and education, and make comments if some professions are under or overpaid.If investment menagers are making millions of dollars I still wouldn’t consider it as a career because I am not attracted to that field. I personally can do only something that I love and enjoy but I also want to do something that I enjoy and be compensated for it. After careful thinking I decided to try to get into medical school after third year of nursing and after I finish it. If I don’t succeed and I will continue into graduate nursing. I will be happier as a doctor but I would rather be a nurse with an experience when I turn 50, than just starting my medical career with a huge debt. My family is very supportive and we are doing fine on my spouse’s moderate income since I am in school. I am hoping to pay my loan first and I since I am not planning any extravagant life, expensive cars, or house, I think I will be fine on $100k+ per year. I will do what I love to do and set example for my children that you shouldn’t give up because of some dificulties. As for the health care in Canada, everyone is so dedicated and they provide an excellent patient care. The Government can make some changes to improve overall health by implementing better social policies. Whoever complains about treatment of doctors and nurses they should talk to immigrants about health care systems in other countries. I am sure that overall you would appreciate Canadian health care more.
    I would appreciate if anyone have some practical advice how to get into the McMaster medical school. My GPA is over 3.9, I am studying for MCAT ( they only look for verbal reasoning) and I have lots of extracuricular activities ( volunteering, tutoring, being part of nursing student groups, long work history and family obligations) I don’t know if I can do anything else to prepare. I am already in problem based learning program at McMaster

  5. NS MedS on December 28, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    With all due respect to anengineerstake, I don’t think you appreciate that the skills employed by a physician are not always that visible. Certainly most procedures require a substantial amount of practice, but they can be learned comparatively quickly. You can’t teach someone to be a surgeon in a month, but they could become fairly proficient in any number of procedures in that time. But the ability to make sound clinical decisions – diagnoses, appropriate referrals, investigations, and treatment plans – is the most important component of medical training. Usually a history and physical are adequate to arrive at a sufficiently narrow differential diagnosis, but not always, and further investigations are frequently necessary for diseases that cannot be definitively nailed down without a CBC or imaging. And while engineers and basic scientists deserve much kudos for their contributions to medical technologies and instruments, it’s silly to suggest that designing a new type of cautery device is remotely comparable to using said device during, say, a large bowel resection.

  6. kw10114 on January 12, 2010 at 5:03 am

    Would you guys say that working or volunteering in a hospital is a good way to see if you have ANY kind of passion or aptitude for the field of medicine? Are there any other ways to find out if going for med school is a right decision? I am a second year University of Alberta science student, but I am not sure what I want to do with my life. ONCE I decide that I want to become a doctor, I will do whatever it takes to get there. What do you guys say to all the students out there who are perplexed about their future?

  7. UpTooLate on January 13, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    Volunteering in a hospital is an excellent idea. First, to get a feel for what is going on and whether you find it interesting. Secondly, without significant public service/volunteer hours you would be at a significant disadvantage in the admissions process. There is certainly an interest in good marks but there is also much more emphasis these days on candidates who have gone out of their way to develop their people skills. All volunteer work or even paid work in applicable areas is seen as value added. Good luck.

  8. Duke on January 13, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    Doc2be

    If you’re truly passionate about becoming a Dr., don’t get too scared by your age. I’m 33, in the middle of my 2nd degree and I’m getting ready for an interview at Dalhousie next month. I applied last year with no luck and will apply once more next year if I don’t get in before I give up…but only because there is only so much you can do to change how you look on paper in the selection process…not because of my age. I have a Biology degree and am doing a degree in Public Health right now. I love my current program and would HIGHLY recommend that you look into this it. It’s not demanding and is very interesting. The job market is strong in Canada now and doesn’t seem like it will slow down. It is similar to medicine in that there are many different areas to become an expert and you can have a direct impact on the quality of life within a community. It’s almost like being a Dr to a population instead of an individual. I know that if I don’t get into Med school, I will be happy having a career in Public Health and will be able to support my family and enjoy a comfortable lifestyle.

  9. Betsy R on February 1, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    As an American who has been quacked on, ripped off, and robbed blind (well crippled) by the medical profession, I don’t want to hear them whining. Yes, I’ve been to a few non-greedy doctors.

    Some of the non-greedy ones seem to be doing quite well, living in comfy homes without too much excess.

    I too like what I read in The Millionaire Next Door. Many millionaires actually live in homes worth about $100,000 instead of $500,000. Just because a doctor is a doctor does not mean the doc needs to live in a $500,000 home and send the kids to the costliest private school. Doctors do need reliable cars to get to their jobs, so some costly reliable car expense is justified.

    I got really ripped off in the 1980’s, which I consider the heyday of fee for service. None of my local doctors would accept insurance assignment or bill me. So I’d have to pop down $75 to $125 at first on a credit card and wait for reimbursement.

    Then in the early 1990’s along came managed care with the copayments. First time that happened to me, I only had a $5 copayment. Okay, so it went up to $10, $15, or $25 later.

    But when the patient is only paying a small copayment, doctors can and will order every test they can and sock it to the insurance company.

    If you have to go from one doctor to another, like from a GP to a specialist, it’s easy to see who is not greedy. Greedy doctors order tests at each visit. The nongreedy docs request the tests from the referring doctor and only redo them if questionable.

    Every job is stressful. Doctors aren’t the only ones under pressure. As for their life saving pressures, well, I’ve repeatedly walked away with untreated illnesses from quacks who didn’t want to do anything other than preventive medicine: play with the blood pressure cuff, test cholesterol, and screen for cancer.

    These doctors quake at the sight of a sick person. Then I end up having to pay and pay till I find a doctor who can treat a sick person. That’s one reason for high health care costs.

    The high student debt for graduating doctors is a relatively new phenomenon, corresponding to the inception of student loans. I don’t want to hear any whining on the student loans. Payment amounts can be adjusted according to income.

    Medical doctors went to school on the buy now, pay later plan. But, when they are delivering services in their offices, they want you to pay them immediately. They usually take copayments now because the insurance industry forced them into that.

    But they know the insurance company will pay them for their services, in less than 30 days. If you don’t have insurance, you are expected to pop out a large amount of money right then and there. When I work a regular job, I expect my employer to pay me within one or two weeks after the completion of a pay period, not immediately every hour of the day.

    Now I’m on Medicare and most of them do accept Medicare assignments. My Medicare payments, which I check on my statements, tend to be less than I paid for services in the 1980’s in the old days of fee for service. So I assume Medicare is close to the real cost of health care.

    Doctors lose money on Medicaid, but not on Medicare.

    When one of the Bushes was president, thet prez would pop off about the old days when doctors treated patients free one day a week, but now couldn’t do that because of malpractice fears. Duh??? They don’t do it now cause they know they can bilk someone else for money and let the indigents flood the emergency rooms.

    I say, pay the doctors in produce and livestock, like in the old days

  10. Betsy R on February 1, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    I like what the doctor who said he’d practiced in several countries, and that Canada had the best medical system.

    American doctors don’t do squat for the “nonspecific” illnesses just like I put in my first post. Most of what we go to the doctor for is nonspecific.

    Most of us don’t and won’t need a heart transplant.

    Greed pays a significant part in the profitable preventive medicine industry in this country, but I think there are some other contributing factors. Transplants, cancer cures, etc., are the glory work. I am not sure all of the factors going on here. Yeah, the drug industry promotes its chemicals. Yes, people do get cancer, and yes, the medical profession has made progress in treating cancer.

    The average US doctor can’t function without a blood pressure cuff.
    But if you have an illness with symptoms, it’s all in your head.

    Try and get a mole or a wart remove, and see how far you’ll get. But you can get heart surgery. They’ll saw through your chest bones and plunge their hands intro your heart.

    Look at the obstetrical industry, when lots of babies come into the world without advanced degreed birth attendants throughout the world.

    It seems like there is a desire to control people through American medicine, but not a desire to treat illness.
    .
    Physicians salaries are much too high in the US, especially since the US is not training doctors to treat nonspecific illnesses with symptoms.

  11. Jon on February 4, 2010 at 7:47 am

    I have been accepted to the University of British Colombia Okanagan (UBCO) and the University of Alberta (UofA). I am debating on which one I should attend. I know UBCO gets some shine from UBC Vancouver but if anyone could help me with this process it would be a huge help. I believe tuition is about the same. Which has the best reputation and is overall better?

    Now, I have heard of a few programs where after residency, I can go up North and work for a few years and they’ll help me pay off my debt. Does anyone know how much they can help me pay off? I will be getting 10000$ from my family to start off for my bachelors and the rest of the money is for me to find…

  12. finally done on March 6, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    Interesting thread.

    I just finished residency/fellowship as a surgical subspecialist and I can tell you that incomes and overheads are all over the map. I pay 20% as a flat overhead rate working out of a hospital. I currently bill about 70k per month so my after expense income is about 650k. That being said, there are some docs in the same specialty in my city making 200k after expenses. Others make much more.

    This would have sounded great to me 13 years ago when I finished high school but I can say with certainty that I would NEVER do it again. There are very few things in life as draining as a surgical residency. There were times I really thought I would have an intracranial bleed the next time my pager went off after being up for 40+ hours at a running pace with people literally dying in front of me.

    There are many things about my job that give me great satisfaction but I can’t say that giving up my 20’s and developing a personality disorder as a result were worth it! I really hope my kids decide on a different career path.

  13. Fork in the Road on March 9, 2010 at 5:36 am

    Thank you to all who have replied! This thread held my attention throughout.

    I have been on the fence for the past two years after completing my undergrad about entering medicine. Last week I attended an interview to enter the faculty at my local university.

    Reading this thread has helped immensely in my decision to, or not to, enter medicine. I especially enjoyed the numerous comparisons to tradespeople or even restaurant workers. It seems as though the question, in a financial sense, is to live now and then in retirement or to live from ~30-55 and still have a somewhat difficult time retiring at that age. Of course job security and the respect given from society is not factored.

    Even though reading this thread has helped, it has not made my decision. There is still a strong urge to enter into the world of small business as an entrepreneur where the earning potential is without ceiling but the risk is inheritably similar. I see this an option leading towards an easier/earlier retirement and similar financial success given equal dedication.

    This is more a personal comment possibly to hear myself type, but feel free to comment on anything I have said.

  14. Greed is Good on March 29, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    My 2 cents on this.
    You can make even better money by having dynamic personality, kissing relevent a$$es and working your way up the corporate ladder. Make influential friends, contacts, be in a comfortable position making 250-500k each year as a Director, Sr VP etc by making high end presentations to the board, executive lunches, playing golf, traveling to various parts of the world-clocking air miles, spend friday-sunday at the cottage while other poor souls (people working under you at your work) are working from home on saturdays toget a better review. If you get fired, you have a million dollar severance pay.

  15. Gas Man = tired guy on March 29, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    Canadian Anesthesiologist here

    Friday “on call” 30 hrs in hospital.
    Saturday “off” – left hospital at noon
    Sunday “on call” 30 hrs in hospital
    Monday left at noon
    Tuesday will work about 8 hrs
    Wednesday will work about 8 hrs
    Thursday on call again = minimum 24 hrs in hospital
    Friday “off”

    So Friday to Friday I will have worked 100 hrs. And yes that is a real 100 hours in hospital the whole time and very little of it sleeping.

    Annual income +/- $500k
    No pension, no dental, no medical, no vacation pay, ect.
    On call 1 night in 4, 2 weekends each month (one Saturday, one Friday/Sunday). Calls usually only 24hrs but sometimes it hits the fan and you stay longer.

    Someone wondered why anesthesiologists and surgeons make more than family MD’s. Look at the hours. I bet our hourly rate is not that much different (though my after midnight premium gets my hourly rate to $300/hr) Daytime rate closer to $120-180/hr. It’s just because we work so many hours. Sure a dermatologist is “on call” but how often is he actually called into the hospital? I live there on call. Try calling your family doc after 5pm. Bet you get a message “for emergences go to your ER”. Guess who’s ass is in the hospital to take care of yours?

    My lawyer charges me $580/hr, their assistant $350/hr. No idea what they would charge me if I called them at 3am. Call a plumber after midnight and they will probably charge you more on an hourly basis that I will for your emergency caesarean section where I take care of your life and the life of your baby.

    That all said, I love my job. Would not want to do anything else. But I know these hours are shortening my life. Usually have someone die on me about once a month or 2, a baby die about every 4-6. Even that is rewarding because we did all we could and I am damn good with the families. (don’t get me started on the home birth, all caesarean sections are evil crowd. Maternal mortality is 20-30% in countries with poor health care. Look around at your pregnant friends, 1 in 5 would die!). Cord around your babies neck and won’t come down the vagina? Baby dead in 48 hrs, you dead in 4-5 days. Oops, placenta won’t come out. Dead from blood loss in 24 hrs or by infection in 4-7 days.) Ask around for friends who had a C/S and why. In labour for 48hrs, well it was not going to come out on it’s own. That said I agree our current rate of 25% C/S is too high when the accepted average should be around 15% (total average, includes repeat C/S because after you had one a vaginal birth = 1/1000 change of uterine rupture and if that happens you have a 15-20% chance of dying and your baby has a 50-75% chance of dying). I totally understand why that is though, our society really does not like it when you end up with a dead or handicapped baby because “Dr. why did you not do a C/S earlier”? So when things look crappy for the baby the obstetrician tends to jump to the knife.

    I will also second that our system is damn good. Not perfect. Some waitlists suck. Ontario laying off nurses about the stupidest thing I can imagine. Why is it that every time they close a wing in my hospital, it gets converted into administrator offices? Cancer care is generally excellent. To the guy with the friend with the brain tumour, I’m sorry to hear that but every brain tumour I ever dealt with that was treatable, was fully covered by our system. I also do palliative care though and know that there are several times when there is nothing more “medically” that can be done to cure and we switch to symptom control and quality of life. I personally am happy the government will not pay 100’s of thousands for chelation therapy or other unproven therapies when the money can be spent on things that are known to work. We as a society need to decide where the money is best spent because we do not have unlimited resources in doctors or nurses or money or… Crappy thing about life is it always comes to an end sooner or later.

    Summary = great job. 14 years of education post grade 12 (5 yrs undergrad, 4 medical school, 5 residency), great money (but hours suck), pretty much guaranteed job security (awesome), no benefits, tons of responsibility (peoples lives can literally be in your hands). Averages you listed in your graph are pretty much right, just add 15% or so to bring them up to 2010 numbers.

    P.S. Incorporation only defers taxes. What you leave in there grows at the lower tax rate but anything you take out is taxed at your marginal tax rate. When you pay yourself a salary from the corp to get your RRSP eligibility you actually pay and EXTRA 2.5% “payroll tax”. Yes, did you know companies pay a tax for the privilege of paying their employees. Another benefit though is income splitting though it is not as great as it used to be.

    PPS. Please everyone please stop smoking, eat right (no fast food or processed foods please) and get regular exercise (come on, 30 min a day going to kill you?). I can’t tell you the number of obese, out of shape smokers who keep trying to die on me. It really makes for a crappy night and everyone acts surprised when uncle bob, 250 lbs, 1 pack per day smoker does not do well after a surgery. If you need an emergency surgery, or any surgery in general, please be thin, in good shape and a non smoker, it will make our jobs a lot easier. Old is ok, it’s the others that kills me because those are modifiable. You’ve heard the one about how the vascular surgeon puts his kids through university right? Bypasses down, amputates up. In a year I will often have 1-2 patients our department will operate 7-10 times on. Obese, smoker, diabetic. Vascular disease. Blockages in the blood vessels. Bypass aorta to femoral. Blocks. Remove clot. Blocks again. Bypass axillary (arm) to femoral (leg) (yes we actually run a gortex tube from the arm artery through your chest and abdomen to your legs). Blocks. Ect, ect. When you run out of vessels and your legs start to die from lack of blood we work in reverse. Amputate toes. Then fore-foot. Then below knee. Then above knee. Guys (and it is mostly men) often are still smoking through this. Stupid, addictive cancer sticks.

    Enough ranting. I’m going to bed.

  16. AmericanMedStudent on April 3, 2010 at 3:01 am

    I’m a 3rd year medical student in America, and with the recent overhaul in healthcare in the US, medicine is no longer profitable for a doctor. I’ll be $200k+ in debt by the time I graduate, and will be making pennies even after I finish working for minimum wage throughout my residency.

    I came across this article through a google search for Canadian physician salaries. I’ve been seriously considering practicing in Canada as a surgeon; I think you Canucks might find many more of us American MD defectors in the coming years. I’d be interested to hear any Canadian MD’s opinion on the future of medicine in Canada, and whether or not you see it being more/less profitable then the new US system.

  17. Katia on April 3, 2010 at 11:29 am

    My husband is graduating med school next month. We are Canadians and plan on remaining in Canada. The same situation applies here with debt and the small salary in residency. One thing to consider is our tax rate which is quite a bit higher than yours.

    What is the projected salary of a US surgeon? Gen Surg?

  18. Fresh Doc on May 4, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    Hey guys, Internal Med doctor working in NJ at the moment, just finished up residency about a month back (woo hoo!) There, intro finished.

    Let me just be perfectly frank here, Doctors ARE overpaid. Sure med school is tough, but anything which pays off in the end in life is tough. Try asking executives who work way more than docs, and get to that position at the age of 45-50.

    Docs always talk about how much responsiblity they have and how they work the longest hours, but really, the work isn’t that hard. You’re simply examining a patient, discussing treatment and providing follow up. But, just like a resume, Docs like to “stretch things out” and make it sound like it’s the worst thing in the world. I’m not afraid to say it because I think Docs just do this for some empathy after their harsh years in Med School (which sucks, I must admit) I make about 180k a year now, overhead is paid by hospital and I don’t spend much.

    Note on Investment Banking: I love how this profession is just thrown out there when we talk about medicine, check out the student doctor network forums, you will find everyone throwing around “ibanker” These jobs are not only incredibly difficult to get, but also work insane hours, way more than any doctor.

    If you can get an undergrad degree AND stay on top of your class at an Ivy league school, you have a chance, otherwise you can forget investment banking, because large firms like Wells Fargo and Goldmann Sachs only hire out of these institutes, other applications are simply discarded (I know this because I talked to a GS executive once over the phone, just straight called him up and told him to be frank) and no, like everyone else here I don’t “have a cousin in i banking that makes millions” who the hell are you people fooling? Also, please stop pointing out the fact that it takes 11+ years to become a doctor and that you will be in “$160k+ in debt.

    If it’s REALLY that bad, then why did you decide to do it? I’m sure most of you knew something about what med school costs before making the plunge? Oh did you do it because “its youre passion no matter what?” well I’m sure you had other passions as a child, painting, singing, etc, why not do that?

    Second, I mentioned the grueling hours in I banking, and those are often 100 hours a week or more on AVERAGE. It’s a very mentally taxing job because you are constantly crunching numbers and your superiors will treat you like shit, because they are the big boys, and you’re just small time compared to them. Plus most first year analysts suck and are asked not to return, so have fun making 120k or so for a year or so until you get tired of the red tape and quit.

  19. Kevin - in Canada on June 24, 2010 at 4:26 am

    – The time doctors spend in school and the cost of tuition is something that should be rightly remunerated (preferabley while they are attending), but that does not mean they should be getting paid for their invested time being educated or for the work they do post school at their current rate, not if we value work based on the level of onerousness, effort and sacrifice which is what I think we ought to focus on. As a few of the above doctors have admitted, their jobs happen to be extremely fulfilling and empowering, not to mention reletively comfortable in comparison to most labour jobs.
    The long hours are something to take into consideration, however I don’t understand why they should even be allowed to monopolize all that time working while others cannot, furthermore many other people making a far lower income doing tiring, boring, back breaking blue collar work as opposed to the reletively desirable tasks of a doctor can also work extremely long hours, usually working 2 or more jobs and not recieving over time pay. I think the question boils down to, how do we want to value? Do we value based on how important a person’s position in the economy is, or do we value based on how undesirable someone’s life is by virtue of the day to day activities they are compelled to suffer through, I for one prefer the latter.

    P.S., My mom is a medical secretary who does all of the boring but necessary work that doctors don’t want to do and she is paid aprox. 40k /yr in comparison to her “ROCK STAR” like MD of a boss who makes upwards of 145k / mo……No, that’s not a typo i’m serious, 145k every goddamn MONTH!!!! So yes to sum up, doctors are way over paid and so are most professionals.

  20. ohmygoshhh on July 28, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    i am going to be an undergrad at university of houston with the major of biology and minor in english. my dream has always been to be a doctor. I liked the job because i can help people and that is a feeling you can rarely get from doing work.

    and i thought it would pay well.
    reading all these posts by people older than me is really freaking me out and im not so sure i can do this anymore.

    how difficult is med school? i want to get into Upenn after 4 years of undergrad.

    and will i really make 4000 a month as a resident?

  21. KY on August 3, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    You are absolutely right when you say going into medicine is about the ‘passion’ and not the money. As an internist in the US making 110K a year (a laughable amount if you ask the specialists), I never feel the need to make any more like the specialists do because it’s not about how much you make. If you do want to accumulate wealth, what’s more important is ‘how much you save’ as opposed to ‘how much you make’. Doctors in general are not very savvy with their finances. There are specialists making north of 500K/year with tons of material goods, but have very little to speak of when it comes to their net worth. There’s this strange need on the part of physicians to keep up a certain ‘image’. I know of a physician couple in NYC making 400K combined, who had to borrow from their parents to buy a 1.5 million dollar condo. Quite silly if you ask me.

  22. cjojay on November 28, 2010 at 6:24 am

    While I agree with much of what you say, I am slightly confused by your statement that: A Physician is only as good as two things 1. His/her knowledge and ability. and 2. The tools that are available to him/her. If one of those is missing a physician becomes USELESS.
    I don’t understand. Have you not just described every professional in every profession? As an engineer for example, what are you without your knowledge and abilities? As an engineer, what are you without tools that are available to you? You are called an engineer because you are knowledgable ands skilled in the field of engineering. In medicine, doctors are taught to be good clinicians, using knowlegde of the human body alone as much as possible to detect disease. Then, they are taught to support their clinical findings or suspicions with instrumentation. The mantra is never to depend entirely on investigations to diagnose. Your diagnosis begins with clinical suspicion. Some of the best physicians are actually in the poorest countries with the least number of technical resources. Even a radiologist Hence the countless hours of human anatomy and physiology and clinical medicine. Sure, once you diagnose, you should treat, which requires the use of surgery or medications. Back in the old days, your local physician also made his or her own drugs through research, experimented in surgical technique etc. I am not opposed to people commenting on how much other professions deserve higher paycheques but I am opposed to people pretending that the work of a physician is not as challenging as it is.

    I agree that there are other fields that make decisions that could affect human life. However, there are few professions in which these decisions are as immediate as in medicine. Imagine an emergency physician for example, as someone already mentioned. There is nothing like fighting to save a life and seeing the hopeful faces of a patient’s family and friends and having to dash their hopes. Or even in psychiatry, the distress of a patient’s mental illness and impact on his or her quality of life and that of the family and yet every intervention you are trying does not seem to be working, or the patient becomes so hopeless that he or she commits suicide. In civil engineering you must be accurate with calculations to prevent mistakes, sometimes fatal. But how much time do you have to check those calculations? Much longer than some physicians have to make split second life or death decisions. And with each patient, the variables keep changing- age, state of health, family history, family environment, compliance with treatment etc.

    And yes, your girlfriend will continue to research ad design life-saving tools. But a physician must decide on a case-by-case basis when to use those toolsm while being aware of other modalities of management that are available- without the physician, her tools are useless. You make it sounda as though the physician is just a monkey trained to use a tool. And as someone said, if the tool is unique, she can patent and make more money than most physicians.

  23. cjojay on November 30, 2010 at 3:59 am

    At the end of the day medicine DOES pay well- you will be earning more than most of the population. However, there are faster and easier ways to earn MORE.

  24. robert on December 6, 2010 at 11:57 am

    you can earn way more than that i am a doctor an di make 700k a year or sometimes more

  25. raj on January 23, 2011 at 10:01 am

    To the topic of overhead fees, most doctors and clinics will show high over head cost, to reduce the amount of income tax that will be deducted and off course they aren’t going to be getting that income tax back, so overhead cost will show up to a point of 33%. Off course saying this out of bloom, with out any research or proof or resource, would not be valid, but think again, they have accountants and finance advisors most of the time working to maximize profits by every means. Next thing, a GP or even specialist, will have range of salaries, only if there is a business aspect to it, meaning Independent practice rather than just working for city hospital, acting adviser and consultation, novelist, or tv show host, and so many more ideas, along with your MD degree can earn you alot. Also increased salaries and wide range depends on where you practice.
    Lastly, do not be discouraged by the aspect of decade worth education, or 200K debt, and following all that a low paid practice, because its in your control how much you want to earn, question is not how much you can earn, rather if how much you want to earn? then next question, which profession is worthy of your intelligence, and something you like. For example, Micheal Jordan famous basketball player, if he had been a doctor, may not have been as successful as he is now. Fame, wealth, and recognition. So what is it that you are good in, and go in that direction, cause thats the password to your million dollar account.

  26. Dutch on February 5, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    Funny thing, how people talk about slave wages for interns.. I’m from Holland and my friend who just graduated medical school there (6 years) had 50 hour work weeks as an intern and a take home wage of about 30 Euros a day (about 40 bucks).. Internships are not subject to minimal wage there.. Then again, total tuition cost for those six years was 9,000 Euros, or about 12,000 dollars Canadian.. What her eventual salary will be I don’t know, our doctors don’t seem to talk about that during consults.. ;)

  27. merle on March 19, 2011 at 1:01 am

    im afraid i won’t have a good enough for why i want to be a doctor when they ask…for those who were accepted recently, what did you say during your interviews to impress them?

  28. ashamed ex canadian on July 15, 2011 at 1:41 am

    So that’s what high paid doctors in Canada say to themselves to feel better? That they deserved high salaries because they save lives? That they don’t do it for the money but the passion? I must admit that I heard twisted fairy tales in my life, but this one beats them all. I save around 50 lives per week in my third world country (you know those easily preventable death you may have heard of: extreme poverty, malnutrition, malaria) with about 300$ worth of supplies… I must have missed the economic class where it says that I had to get paid for the lives I save! Even more ridiculous, I spend the extra part of my salary to save more lives… now I feel stupid. So, if I get that right, I save people life so it has to pay out… cash (because my feeling of well being, of doing the right thing is not, of course, payment enough) so how much should I get for those 50 lives? I know, it’s not the same quality of life as the one you are saving (obese, smoker, drunkard, polluter), but third world country subsistence farmers (you know that guy that works for 2$ a day to send you fresh bananas) but still it has to be worth something? The foundation of saving lives is therefore not because I CAN but because I CASH, that’s the great mystery of life that has been eluding me for so long!!! In all seriousness, any person tied to health care profession complaining about the remuneration of their work shouldn’t be a physician (and they are generally those bad ones). If there is one profession that should be ALL about the calling, it is this one. Money should never come in play for those persons. Their studies should be free, they should be given houses, cars and all their primary necessities and a very insignificant amount of spending money for they should be our modern day saints giving all for others for the benefits of humanity not for a profit! I deeply hope I was able to create some shame for some of you and to rethink the role of physicians in a society.

  29. Intrigued Doc on July 16, 2011 at 5:00 am

    @ashamed ex canadian:

    I don’t normally write on these blogs, but your comments pointed out a number of things that I find are interesting to discuss.

    To clarify my background both my wife and I are physicians working in Canada who also have volunteered in third world countries, as well as worked in the third world areas of our country (ie. Reserves and some areas of the North that have no running water and shacks for homes)

    I am going to take a guess by your comments that you would describe yourself as a strong believer in socialism promoting equality in income, health care and the general standard of living on the whole for a nation’s population or the general pursuit of these ideals. I myself came from a strong socialist background belief until recent years.

    To your first point of saving lives on minimal income with minimal compensation I first want to commend you on a noble endeavor that the world certainly needs. These countries with poor economic means would certainly be worse off if not for volunteers and foreign aid. I think you need to be careful when comparing saving so called defenseless lives secondary to being born into a poor nation, to those born in a wealthy nation having health issues that are largely self-induced (obesity, smoking, drug and alcohol addiction to name a few) I find it rare that someone would hold one life to be of greater value than another – certainly if your family or friends were ill I’m sure you would be happy to have expensive technology and medicine as an aid to improve their chances of returning to health!

    To your point of physicians shouldn’t be concerned with their remuneration and should in fact be paid less and as a whole be the modern day saints of our society also brings an interesting point. We will have to assume you imply this to be in the context of Canada’s current mixed capitalism/socialist system and not one of communist ideal where all professions operate on the same ideal for the basic requirements of standard of living.
    If indeed doctors made the same as say teachers or nurses who also are paid through government wage, lets contemplate what would evolve. I don’t think anyone would debate that it doesn’t require more time/ personal effort to become trained as a physician rather than a nurse or a teacher. Comparing the number of years alone, to become a nurse/teacher is approximately in the range of 5-6 years while a physician takes a minimum of 10 to be out and practicing as a GP, while the median would likely be 13-14 as most people don’t get in straight out of undergrad or they do additional training. I would also submit that the number of hours spent studying/ job training is vastly greater without trying to specify amounts. Additionally, the cost of schooling is obviously higher. This analysis holds true comparing to essentially all other careers out there – anybody that knows of a equivalent field requiring a similar # of years/hours/expense please advise.

    Now people fail to realize that doctors aren’t inherently all brilliant people that were simply born with the ability to absorb a copious amount of material and practice medicine. The key feature inherent in all doctors (whether good or bad physicians) was the ability to delay gratification in the face of enormous personal effort and for the majority also a significant financial burden. Whether that gratification comes from ensuring financial freedom/security for their family, materialistic desires, or for the so called love of humanity and complete self sacrifice for the common good – this delaying of gratification for the belief that all that effort will lead to fulfillment of that personal desire is essential.

    First, do you believe that ideally there are a sufficient number of physicians that would endure the above process for the “modern saint” ideal? Would there continue to be growing numbers of them in the face of a Canadian doctor shortage? Would they continue to sacrifice greater numbers of hours away from the families than the average person in the workforce to hold to their idealism? Would they not hold some resentment to some of their fellow countrymen around them who enjoy a better standard of living without dedicating an equivalent to the greater societal common good?

    I suppose society could just decrease the amount of effort it takes to receive the MD designation and then more good hearted people such as yourself could be in Canada saving lives here too for “the modern saint” idealism. Yet with physicians making mistakes despite high levels of training in physicians and deep competition to get into medical school, I think I’d rather have the money-grubbing, Ferrari-driving materialist that waited 15 years to obtain it opening up my chest rather than your whole hearted goodness that leaves me dead on the table.

  30. ashamed ex-canadian on July 17, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    @Intrigued Doc

    First I’ll admit that I did suffer from some utopist delusion which died off quickly after I moved away from Canada 12 years ago. The harsh reality of the life in third world countries somehow quickly brings you back to reality. I understood that the lifestyle of rich countries was tied to the exploitation of the poorest countries (or should I dare say slavery!). The system as a whole is bound to fail the moment that people paid a dollar a day to work 12 hours (mainly China) would rebel. When you understand that, you see things on a different light. No wonder they say ignorance is bliss. When you don’t see the suffering your lifestyle brings to others, it’s easier to make yourself believe that you’re a good person.

    To address your first assumption (socialist), I would say that I was rather brought up quite capitalistically and would still say that each person deserve according to their effort. Where I cannot agree is the lack of control of the capitalist system. I would therefore, agree on a controlled-capitalism which would limit the benefits of one’s work to let say 100%! Example, if a t-shirt real cost until sold is 5$ (taking all costs into account), the maximum resale price would be 10$. However, when it comes to the intrinsic needs of a society as whole, money shouldn’t be a motivation. You are right to assume that physicians wouldn’t be the only ones included in the social programs. Law enforcement, civil protection, government would fall under the same kind of rule. Here, is a very good example in Canada, of underpaid social workers: police officers. I’m pretty much convinced that no one in Canada becomes a policeman for the salary or benefits offered (maybe for the “power” of the position).

    The main point to understand in what I suggest is that education and your basic needs during the time of your education would be provided by the state. So money would never be an obstacle or a motivation toward entering the medical career. Do I believe that in that context there would be sufficient physicians? I’ll take here an example which I do not endorse but shows nevertheless a result. Cuba has the second highest doctor-to-patient ratio in the world after Italy and the best health-care system in Latin America. (ref. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Healthcare_in_Cuba) A good education system to begin with is a strong tool toward forming future professionals and when money is not a concern anymore, anyone willing and capable will be able to study. So the only real thing left to create is a real sense of compassion and empathy for others. Also of importance to note, a more educated society should need much less of the cares of physicians, (less smokers, drinkers and food related diseases) accidents would be the primary source of work.

    I would go as far as to say that, the work load of physicians should be less than the common men (the current rate of work in Canada is deplorable), more frequent vacations, so that he would never feel used by society and would be happy to give back. Don’t worry, I do intend to write a model proposition on that since, believe it or not, I call myself a writer and a philosopher (but being Quebecois my English writing skill might not seem up to the task but I do pretty well in French!) I took that decision recently, when I remembered what my father used to tell me: “Do not ask yourself what the community do for you but what can you do for the community”! You can guess he was just trying to get me to help some more around the house, but I can now see a greater truth to it. As much as I did to change the personal life of some people I never did anything to change the society or even tried. Therefore I decided it was my duty to try (as a detractor of the present system); my first paper will be about the true value of a profound health reform. So at least now, if I ever succeed, you will know who the one to hate is! ;) I always welcome further comments to help me see the other side of the fence. As a final parenthesis, another thing I find totally abnormal, is to see medical professionals smoking, obese (or leaning toward), abusing drugs (often prescribed ones). Which security can you feel in the hands of such a person? A care-giver who doesn’t care about himself shouldn’t be practicing. That only shows you the decadence of the system (health that is) who allows it.

  31. plancker212 on July 18, 2011 at 12:05 am

    @ Ashamed Ex-Canadian
    I completely concur with your thoughts. While l am not a doctor but a professional engineer working with the oil sector, I do tend to keep my knowledge and curiosity alive with-in the ‘practical’ medical field through reading and research.

    I do agree with you on the fact that passion is something that is required in any profession to be the best out there and to justice to the profession. It is wisely said that ‘One man with a passion is much better than 40 men merely interested’. This I do not see in many doctors in Canada (at least not professionally and with-in the Canadian medical system,in my personal experience) though I could be wrong, I still believe many practice the profession for the material benefits as opposed to the passion to cure and rid the patient of his or her suffering. While there are a handful doctors who are very good at what they do, many of them are worried about compensation as opposed to patient health. I think the whole process (of materializum and a capitalistic approach) starts of at the university, with high cost to fund medical program and carries over to many medical practitioners talking about compensation to balance the time and effort spent in school.

    Anyhow good discussion and while its hard to change the thinking process and end world hunger. We can all acknowledge that medicine (or any other professional career) should be pursed for passion and then worry about the money to help survive in an ever increasing material world.

  32. engineerincanada on July 28, 2011 at 4:23 am

    To all of you who think that engineers don’t have to make split-second decisions that affect lives – let me tell you a bit about that. I’m an operations as well as a design engineer specializing in control systems. True, design engineers do not need to make many split second decisions – When I do my design I re-do my calcs a few times, consult with coleagues, etc and by the time I put my signature on the drawings I generally sleep well knowing that chances are fairly slim that whatever I designed will blow up one day. Operations is a different story though. During the “start up” or “comissioning”, you literally have minutes to make sure that whatever you are doing – works. Just imagine – the whole plant is simulated on your computer and you’re working on it “live”. People are screaming at you. Things are often not working. You’re at your computer trying to make them work and under terrible stress and your job is on the line. If you were to press one wrong button on the keyboard you can open/close a wrong valve, stop/start a wrong motor, long story short, make the whole place blow up in seconds. 1000+ lives gone, including yours. How is that for responsibility? Just my 2 cents, thanks for listening.

  33. Chinstrap on July 28, 2011 at 11:29 am

    For those interested in the original topic about what MDs make or can make.

    This summer in Ontario there is a gov’t assisted initiative to get physicians to do shifts and help out in rural Emergency departments (Southhampton, Woodstock, Goderich, Tillsonburg, for ex.).

    The pay is between $110 to $140/hour (depending on day/night) plus a percentage of billings which can add up to another $1000 for an 8hr shift. So for an 8 hour ER shift one can make about $2000 depending on the volume and acuity of patients seen.

  34. engimaoflife on July 28, 2011 at 11:46 am

    Simple reason behind all these issues – ‘Supply and Demand’…Doctors and lawyers are paid highly in the North American system simply because of this reason. Look at a third world country and the Doctor is simliar to an Engineer a Lawyer much poorly compenseted than both the other professions.

    Doctors enjoy memorizing (I can use my little WebMD on iphone) to look up medications and have a fair idea of what these medications are doing to the body etc. The engineering eduction/skill draws more on creativity and less memorization. It is hard for me to find the same problem many times with-in the engineering field and many times the problems are very different and unique. Yet to come up with a program or database where I can punch an engineering problem and it will give me the solution which will fit the issue close to prefect…..Anyhow again boils down to supply and demand. The prestiage part of the profession, well everyone knows what a doctor does or what a lawyer does, but not many folks know what engineering is all about unless they are involved in the field….!

  35. Dr. Mahesh Pandya on September 1, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    I am really surprised to know this. I am specialist orthopedic surgeon practicing in India having my own orthopedic hospital. Even by earning in Indian rupees [CAD $ = 46 Rupees], I save more than 120K CAD $ annually after paying up all overheads, staff salaries,Income tax and house expenses. One would wonder to know that I have been trying to get work in the Canadian healthcare system in orthopedic surgery for last three years- mind you not for money BUT family reunion as my son is in Canada. I am not getting any good position. I have cleared the required examinations. Twice I have undergone the evaluation by prestigious CEHPEA in Toronto and passed the evaluation as orthopedic surgeon both the times [in 2008 and 2010]. I am in receipt of Eligibility letter for provisional license in orthopedic surgery in province of Alberta, I am still without a position. SO I have stayed back in India. Of course I love my subject orthopedic surgery as much as I love my family.
    Reading this I must say Thank God that I did not choose anything else [other than becoming orthopedic specialist] in healthcare system of Canada to be with my son! I would have been at a bigger loss than I would have expected ever since I have to support my son for his studies in Canada!! I am proud to say that even after earning in India I can support my son fully for studies in Canada.

  36. Chinstrap on September 3, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    I made a mistake. The rural hospitals are offering more like $180/hr and higher depending on shift. For example, one hospital near London On. is offering $220/hr for a 4pm-12pm shift on a long weekend plus a % of billings from OHIP. If you work the actual Holiday, say Labour Day Monday then it’s even more. If you live in Toronto or 2+ hrs and have to drive they will pay $300 per way to drive.

    In total for a 8hr locus shift on a holiday weekend, it’s $1760 + $600 (drive from Toronto) + % of billings. Total of approx. $2700-$3000.

    A small town in NW Ontario ( near Minnesota border) is looking for a family doc, who can also do some ER call. Salary is $540,000 with no overhead as it’s covered and they have EMR (elec. medical rec.) so it’s easy to bill. This does not include a signing bonus if you sign to stay for 2 years, 3 years, etc. This could be $75000, $150,000 or more depending on how long you say you will stay in moose country. They also pay for a locum to cover 37 days of your vacation.

  37. Markus on September 10, 2011 at 3:57 am

    I find the comments made by people who are Phds and engineers etc are highly misinformed. They have no conception of how difficult it is to become a doctor. They must think,”oh I have a hard degree, I am just as smart”. When you get into med school its at another level. You are competing with the top 5% from undergrad that are now your peers. The standards and expectations are super high. You don’t stand out just by being smarter than average. If you are lucky enough to get into a competitive specialty you spend either long hours on call or long hours studying. It isn’t “oh I have to cram” 1 week before the exam study. It’s lock yourself indoors for years study. And its over a decade of studying! The social isolation and lifestyle is appalling. It wrecks relationships. Then there is the stress of going over 200k in debt and not being able to make payments on it while you are working over 80hours a week for 50k salary for years of residency.

    Although some Phds have a difficult topic, I have never seen one work that hard. They get paid a stipend and actually make money while they are doing their degree and most can live normal lives and have relationships. Most of my friends are engineers and they all were able to start families, buy houses go traveling and enjoy life up to as much as 7 years earlier than my doctor friends.

    I went to chiropractic school. I, like a Phd can call myself a doctor but have no misconception that I have worked as hard or been through as much stress as having gone to med school and residency. From my point of view, people just simply don’t value health care (and health) enough. I am young, fit and in optimum health but when I am over 70 and want to keep going I want there to be someone I can count on.

    I think that we need a pension plan for doctors similar to countries in Europe. It would allow for a little bit of that financial stress to be relieved. Also there should be some tax break or interest freeze on the tuition. If the simple economics of the profession make it so that a plumber investing conservatively is worth more at 75 than a doctor this needs to be addressed. Otherwise, it will no longer be the top 5% going to medschool, you will see a changes in the quality of service and then realize just how much health care actually is worth.

  38. FM Specialist on September 11, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    Family medicine is very underrated as a career choice among med students. I did a 2-year FM residency and my gross income last year was over$700k – higher than any specialist I am aware of … just food for thought.

  39. Chinstrap on September 11, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    FM Specialist, can you elaborate a bit for us on how you made the $700k.. Are you in a Family Health Network? Do you do OB, ER or anything else on the side? Did you sign up for a rural incentive placement program? If you could elaborate it would add believability to your comment and frankly my spouse in interested (she’s the new doc)

  40. Engineer on September 21, 2011 at 11:23 am

    I am an engineer. I’d like to resolve any doubts as far as the comparison between physicians and engineers or scientists are concerned.

    Any profession that demands knowledge in higher mathematics like engineers, actuaries, physicists is a lot more intellectually demanding than physicians’ job.

    Med school students are just memorizing a whole lot of material. While I do agree that medical students spend more time learning by heart they are not even close to being as creative as engineers are.
    It takes only willpower and being hard-working to complete (or rather cram through) MD. It doesn’t involve any aptitude.

    I think only people, who work in a profession like portfolio management, semiconductor physics, computer science will appreciate my post to the fullest. To succeed in any such field you have to be a math and physics whiz form high school and then excel further in university.
    I know many medical students. None of them would be able to understand differential equations. They would just memorize how to solve them without understanding. It’s also true that many engineering students do not understand them, but those do not succeed in the field in engineering. The people who understand differential equations end up doing jobs like designing new aircrafts and I do believe such jobs are the most inspiring.

  41. Chinstrap on September 21, 2011 at 11:48 am

    Engineer,
    It’s funny how people classify themselves. “I am an engineer, or I am a doctor.” Is there really a need to box anyone in? Although there are generalities and stereotypes people make but we know that doesn’t solve or prove anything. It’s all in the individual and then facts.

    There are engineers who go back to med school and doctors who leave the hospital bureaucracy and grind to try consulting, the corporate Pharma world, etc.

    Turning to facts… An Emerg Doc can make $500k gross and incorporate to lower taxes. An engineer at Apple or Facebook can make millions b/c they get options and bonuses for designing the leading edge new apps.

    Vice versa, you can get a family doc working in a community health clinic which pays only $125k but they enjoy the work. And you have engineers that walk around working for the city checking to make sure the sewer pumps are working… that doesn’t take differential equations to me.

  42. frugaldoc on September 22, 2011 at 12:17 am

    Engineer,

    As a person who did a physics degree before med school, I can appreciate your post. I, like you, have a high aptitude for math and find it easy to understand differential equations and such. I also think it’s more intellectually demanding and interesting that memorizing crap, such as medical things. I was drawn more to the interactions with patients and other health care team members, as well as the high pressure situations in emergency medicine. This trumped the superior intellectual satisfaction of physics.

    But I have two counterpoints. One is: so what? Does anyone really care that it is more intellectually demanding to be an engineer, other than engineers. Probably not.

    The other one would be that the model for physicians, in North America at least, isn’t one where the challenge is med school itself. It’s getting in. One does have to show a great degree of aptitude and determination to get in. The rare person who fails or quits usually does so because of personal issues rather than not being able to complete the work. That doesn’t mean everyone has the option to do med school if they want to. At the same time, the stereotype that doctors simply memorize a large volume of information is becoming increasingly less accurate. The amount of material to know is ever increasing, and the tools available for rapid access to resources for looking up information are continually improving. My point is that the current generation is less memorization dependent. It’s more about how to effectively find the correct information and critically interpret it for the situation at hard. I really only memorize the things I need to know immediately for true life or death situations.

  43. SST on September 22, 2011 at 12:48 am

    @Engineer: “…I do believe such jobs [designing new aircrafts] are the most inspiring.”

    Maybe, but only for engineers.
    I’m sure there are plenty of teachers out there who think their jobs are the most inspiring. What’s more inspiring — building better things or building better people?

    @frugaldoc: “…so what? Does anyone really care that it is more intellectually demanding to be an engineer, other than engineers. Probably not.”

    Bingo.

    Then go ask Buffett if he understands differential equations and if his intellectual “inferiority” lessens his wealth any.

  44. Undecided on September 23, 2011 at 1:31 am

    I have just graduated Highschool in Canada and around here there is a high Indian population. Being Indian myself I know a lot of students whose parents are sending them to medical school in India because there one goes into the 4 year med program right away no under grad is required. After residence they come back to Canada and do their specialty here. However seeing how many are flocking to India for this it makes me wonder if there will be an over supply of doctors especially in the states more and more foreign Indian doctors are getting hired. By no means am I targeting Indian doctors but rather after there being a shortage of doctors for so long and now thousands of students studying medicine abroad is it possible there soon will be an over supply?

  45. medstudent on September 28, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    Interesting to see this comment section still going.
    Doctors are paid fairly I believe, but certainly aren’t swimming in it.

    In Ontario, you need at least 3 years of undergraduate to enter medical school, (maybe 5% of successful applicants), the majority will have 4+ years of undergraduate education prior to medicine.

    You do 4 years of unpaid schooling in medicine (8 months of a 700 stipend in your 4th year)
    and then 2-7 years of residency making 45-75k gross a year (incrementally increases year by year) while working generally wild hours.

    I started univ at 19 did 6 years of undergraduate, needed an off year to reapply. Will have done 4 years of medical school. I will be 30 before I earn my first cent in medicine, and the average medical student will carry nearly 200k in debt, some more.

    I will be 32-37 before I earn anything close to the figures pointed out in the above article.

    At that point, yes I will be paid very well and have excellent job security based on my specialty/area of medicine. But it will have taken me 12-17 years of training to get there. I will have delayed having children, home ownership and many other life milestones to get there.

    I’ve never regretted my choice, and love medicine. However, remember when you think a physician is overpaid or very well off, it was a long path of long hours and training to get to a point considered comfortable and you have to do it because you love it. All the money won’t make the decade of training enjoyable if you’re not into it.

  46. SST on September 28, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    Who do you think is worth more: a doctor or an investment banker?

    According to income levels, it’s the banker.
    But let’s see how far society would get without doctors.

    Just something to think about… :)

  47. Jack on October 2, 2011 at 2:25 am

    I work in the HR department for a large medical center in Kansas City. The absolute minimum salary we will pay to a general practitioner just out of residency with no specialty is 165,000. With 10 years experience, this same doctor will be paid between 190-205. Obviously pay for specialists varies. What I can tell you aspiring physicians is that we just finalized a contract with an orthopedic sugeon who will be paid 385,000 per year. Upon signing he received a 12.5% bonus (damn!). He will be given a raise and possibly another bonus every two years. Generally, surgeons make by far the most money. Get into neurology or some type of vital cardiac surgery and you could make over 1 million dollars in a year. Dermatologist can make a killing too.

  48. MI Resident on October 6, 2011 at 11:39 am

    My take on this entire issue is that we became doctors / physicians to help people and not to earn the highest income in the country.

    You really have to be an idiot to spend 5-6 years in medical school + intense pre – medical school preparation + 4 to 8 years of residency & fellowship + huge debt + stress full lifestyle with thinking of earning higher then other professions. There are so many other ways of making decent money but this is what distinguishes a physician from others … to help the sick and save lives.

    Now I am a general surgery trainee in USA and I have full right of complaining about compensation in general surgery when you compare it to the long working hours, poor quality of life and law suits on top of that but then i tell myself that I choose to do what I am doing and I knew very well how my life is going to be.

    For me the most frustrating thing is the difference in compensation between different specialties and sub specialties in Medicine and Surgery. I could not believe my eyes when i saw that for a heart transplant a CT surgeon is making 4000 $ including post op ICU / floor care and fup visits upto 90 days (yes this is what a CT surgeon makes !!! ). Now compare that to fixing 2 hip joints or even putting 2 Laparoscopic gastric band procedures (obesity surgery). These are going to be compensated the same as a heart transplant with probably 1/3 the stress, time and complexity. Also compare that Orthopods and interventional radiologists are making the same (around 400K-600K) so do poor psychiatrists / pediatricians and anesthesia NURSES in USA (130-160 K) which i think is insane.

    My point is people complain when they feel being exploited. There is so much discrimination in salary with in medical specialties and sub specialties let alone medicine and other professions.

    Bottom line is
    1. Do you home work before choosing a profession and once you are in that profession stop complaining.
    2. Govt should take steps for decreasing the discrimination in compensation between professions and with in a profession because insurance companies will not.
    3. Stay happy with what you do and earn. Money has no limit neither does it gives you happiness.

    All the best.

  49. Ghaz on October 9, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    Anyone know how to become a ER DOC on the front lines?

  50. Daniel on October 21, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    Dear everyone.
    So, you like questioning other profession making too high of a salary. Would you like to do that job or being in their shoes? I tell you the truth, I would not because it may not make me happy, doesn’t matter how much it pays.
    The reason I came cross this site is to know how much a graduated profession would be making after so much $$$, times and health line invested and still have to work long hours afterward with great responsibilities. As I have found out, I have full respect for them but I would not trade what I have been doing in my life.
    I have been just a jack of all trades and master of none at the age of 55. I have done many things in life and allways being good at it. My idea of successfull is being able to do what I like. As I have fullfilled myself with some education, traveled twice around the world, and only worked as little as I have time for it at work that I like to do. What I allways like to do are things others don’t want to do or can not do; and of course money that comes with it is like academic point system to rate the achievements.
    Last 2 years I paid as much as a Phd would for his years of education. I am graduated gambler now. Without holding a degree, my wage is at $1000.00/Hr easily guaranteed, no over head and tax free. Yet I’ve decided to only allows myself 1.5 to 2Hrs of work/day so I can enjoy the rest of the day with something else that more worthwhile for life which I like to do better than just making money/ being greedy.
    I’d say we are all deserved what we are doing, including being complainned (with full respect). It is obvious that as we read and write these comments are also what we like but don’t let it gets to you. Try to measure happiness from what you do then you will see the wisdom. This includes making changes to make you happier. This will apply to all aspects of life.
    KNOWING YOURSELF WILL GIVE YOU SUCCESS and
    REGCOGNISE YOUR GREEDINESS WILL GIVE YOU HAPPINESS
    Good luck to you all.
    Daniel

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