FYI Daily

Are Doctors Underpaid?

Last updated: May 02, 2012

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Have a small mountain of medical bills on the kitchen table? Maybe sit down for this: According to Medscape, 49 percent of all physicians and 54 percent of primary care physicians aren't satisfied with their income.

This may seem mind-boggling, especially when average salaries range somewhere between $156,000 and $315,000 per year, depending on the specialty. But according to a CNN blog post by Anthony Youn, a plastic surgeon in Detroit, those salaries aren't unreasonable -- and the complaints might not be either.

According to Youn, doctors generally have huge student debts to pay off when they graduate from med school -- on average, about $141,000 -- and doctors have their income capped by the government and insurance companies.

The Medscape study shows that physician frustration is on the rise in general, with only 54 percent of the more than 24,000 respondents saying they'd choose medicine as a career if they had to do it over again.

Doctors' comments in the survey showed this frustration too, including, "My income is 60 percent of what it was 10 years ago, and I'm doing more work," and "I love being a physician, but I hate what is happening to medicine. Too many people are coming between me and the care I provide to my patients."

And then there are times when patients refuse to pay up. During Youn's residency, a patient cashed an insurance check meant for the attending surgeon and then told the surgeon, "I figured you're a rich doctor. I need the money more than you."