The Deceptive Salary of Doctors

Deceptive-Salary-of-Doctors

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The Deceptive Salary of Doctors

Most people believe that high school teachers don’t make enough money, and few believe that doctors should make more. Believe it or not, doctors make 3 cents less per hour than high school teachers over the course of their career.

Time Spent Becoming a Doctor

1: Bachelor’s Degree
• 40 hours/week
• 40 weeks/year
• 4 years
= 6,400 hours (to be a competitive candidate for medical school, this number is likely much higher in actuality)

2: Medical School
• 80 hours/week (that’s 2 full-time jobs)
• 48/weeks/year
• 4 years
= 15,360 hours

3: Residency
• 80 hours/week (that’s 2 full-time jobs)
• 50 weeks/year
• 3 years minimum up to 7 years (the first year is known as an internship)
= 12,000 – 28,000 hours
Residencies vary in length depending on the specialty

4: US Medical Licensing Exam
Pass all three parts of the US Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE)

5: Board Certified Specialist
Some additional steps and training are required to become board certified in a specialty.

For instance, to become…

A doctor in internal medicine you must:
• Graduate college with a Bachelor’s degree
• Graduate from medical school
• Pass all three USMLEs
• Take part in a 3-yr residency program
• Pass an internal medicine board exam
Total training/study time: 33,760 hours

A doctor in thoracic surgery you must:
• Graduate college with a Bachelor’s degree
• Graduate from medical school
• Pass all three USMLEs
• Take part in a 5-yr general surgery residency
• Take part in a 2-yr thoracic surgery fellowship
• Pass a thoracic surgery board exam
Total training/study time: 49,760 hours

Doctors spend an average of 40,000 hours training. That’s equivalent to 20 years of full-time work.

For the rest of their career, doctors work an average of 59.6 hours/week.

The average doctor’s career ends at 65. If they finish their residency at 29, they’ll spend 36 years working almost 1 ½ times more than most other Americans.

In other words, it would normally take 54 years to do the work that doctors do in 36.

Money Spent Becoming a Doctor

Undergraduate Student Budget
• Public schools: $22,826/year [formerly $19,338] • Private schools: $44,750/year [formerly $39,028] Average medical 4-year undergraduate student loan debt: $100,000

Medical School Student Budget
• Public medical school: $32,993/year [formerly $24,384] • Private medical schools: $52,456/year [formerly $43,002] (not include rent, utilities, food, transportation, health insurance, books, professional attire, licensing exam fees, or residency interview expenses)

Average 4-year medical school student loan debt: $200,000

Doctors often graduate medical school with well over $300,000 of student loan debt.

Residency
It would cost a doctor $1,753 per month ($21,037 yearly) just to pay the interest on a $300,000 loan. That’s almost half of a doctors average net residency income of $50,000.

So, for a doctor practicing internal medicine to forbear a $300,000 loan for three years during residency, then repay that loan for 20 years, it would result in an overall loan cost of $687,360. That’s $34,368 per year for 20 years.

Career
U.S. tax code allows deductions of up to $2,500 per year for student loan repayment—but that phases out for incomes between $115,000 and $145,000.
The average US doctor’s salary: $202,948
The average net income after a 28% federal tax rate: $146,123
After non-deductible student loan payments: $111,755

Lifetime Adjusted Net Hourly Wage
To determine a doctors’ overall lifetime hourly wage:

Find their lifetime net income:
(Net Annual Income * Years Worked) + (Residency Income* Years in Residency) – (Student Loan Debt)
• Take the average net annual income ($146,123) and multiply by the average number years worked (36) =
$5,260,428
• Add the average net residency income ($50,000) and multiply by the number of residency years (3) =
$150,000
• Subtract the total average cost of student debt = $687,360

• Lifetime net income = $4,723,068

Find their lifetime hours worked:
(Average Hours Worked Per Week x Weeks Worked Per Year x Years Worked) + (Hours Spent Training)
• Take the average number of hours worked per week (59.6)
• multiplied by the average number weeks worked per year (48)
• multiplied by the average number number of years worked (36)
• Then add the total number of hours spent training (40,000)
• Lifetime hours worked = 142,989
Divide lifetime net income by lifetime hours worked = $33.03 per hour

- Compared to the average high school teacher -

Find their lifetime net income:
(Net Annual Income * Years Worked) + ( Net Pension Income* Years Received) – (Student Loan Debt)
• Take the average net annual income ($47,113) and multiply by the average number years worked (43) =
$2,025,859
• Add the average net pension income ($35,507) and multiply by the average number of years received (15) =
$532,605
• Subtract the average cost of student debt = $186,072

• Lifetime net income = $2,372,392

Find their lifetime hours worked:
(Average Hours Worked Per Week x Weeks Worked Per Year x Years Worked) + (Hours Spent Training)
• Take the average number of hours worked per week (40)
• multiplied by the average number weeks worked per year (38)
• multiplied by the average number number of years worked (43)
• Then add the total number of hours spent training (6,400)

• Lifetime hours worked = 71,760
Divide lifetime net income by lifetime hours worked = $33.06 per hour… about an apple a day more than a doctor.

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Sources:
http://benbrownmd.wordpress.com/
• Anim, M., Markert, R., Wood, V., & Schuster, B. (2009). Physician practice patterns resemble ACGME duty hours. The American Journal of Medicine, 122(6), 587-593
http://www.bls.gov/tus/charts/work.htm
http://trends.collegeboard.org/sites/default/files/college-pricing-2013-full-report.pdf
https://www.aamc.org/download/152968/data/debtfactcard.pdf
http://www.mgma.com/Libraries/Assets/About/Press%20Room/Press%20Releases/2007-2012/Mediancompensation-levels-by-geographic-sections.pdf
• Publication 15 Cat. No. 10000W. In: Treasury, editor: Internal Revenue Service; 2010. p 40.
http://www.aafp.org/news-now/government-medicine/20100618cmsprocessing.html