The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists 13 out of 20 of the highest-paid occupations as belonging to the medical sector. One of those occupations is a doctor.
Doctors get paid so much money because it’s a delicate profession where one literally has the lives of people in their hands. The slightest wrong diagnosis, cut, or prescription is often the difference between life and death.
Read on if you want to know why doctors are paid so much and whether they deserve it.
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1. Doctors Provide a Life or Death Service
Have you ever stopped to think about what the world would be like without doctors? Scary right? Who would correctly diagnose illnesses? Who will come up with the right treatment plan to heal you? One of the top reasons why doctors should get paid more is because they provide a delicate and crucial service.
Doctors literally stand between you and a life-threatening illness. If someone has the power to heal you when you could potentially be headed to the grave, wouldn’t you want to appreciate them in every way possible? For the number of people doctors work hard to keep alive, they deserve to be paid more.
Think about how much your life is worth. Can you put a sum on it? If you consider your life priceless, how much more should a doctor be paid to help keep you alive?
2. Studying To Become a Doctor Is Intense
When you picture a med student, what immediately comes to mind? Fatigue, constantly buried in a book, walking around with flashcards, no social life, broke, constantly looking worn out and tired. Perhaps you’ve gone through med school yourself or know someone who has. It’s no walk in the park. Medical school is hard; there’s no other way to put it. It’s also two years longer than the average undergraduate degree.
Not to mention that getting into med school is a feat unto itself. Every step in learning medicine is deliberately designed to weed out non-serious students. Only the best and those truly committed to studying medicine get to continue. Your SATs must be high to get into the undergrad program. Secondly, you must ace your MCAT to join medical school. And finally, you must pass your USMLE to get into residency.
The medical syllabus is extensive and involves a lot of memorization. The sheer amount of memorization required is insane. And you must get it right. One wrong spelling or incorrect answer can spell trouble for a potential patient years later.
As a medical student, expect to spend many a lonely night in the library pouring over medical terms while your friends from other undergraduate programs party away. Also, unlike other programs that may become easier as you advance through the years, med school is the opposite. It gets progressively harder each year.
The first two years deal with basic sciences before moving on to more complex subject matters. In the first year, you’re dealing with a lot of foundational stuff that you already covered in high school. In medicine, you’ll also study subjects like physiology, biochemistry, and cellular biology, but deeper.
The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) states that up to 84.3% of four-year medical program students graduate. That’s a fairly decent number. The dropout rate is below 20%. Despite the grueling syllabus, medical students still push through and graduate.
Doctors dedicate the prime years of their life studying medicine without earning anything unless they find the time to hold a student job. Many students often come out of residency feeling like they’ve missed out on friends and family’s special moments like engagements, weddings, birthday parties, funerals, vacations, and more.
Judging by how much they go through, doctors must earn more as a reward for their hard work.
3. Being a Doctor Is a Difficult Profession
After surviving med school and residency and emerging bruised and battered, yet victorious, you now have to practice medicine, which is not easy. On average, doctors can spend anywhere between 40 to 60 hours per week, according to the American Medical Association (AMA). If you work in a busy practice that’s understaffed, then you may work even longer hours.
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By virtue of how difficult it is to be a doctor, they must be paid more. Sometimes, you must be on call, even during downtime or off days, especially in an emergency.
Doctors are often at risk of contracting the same diseases they try to save patients from. And, they do not have a choice, as doctors are required to treat and save patients’ lives where possible.
Doctors also experience a lot of psychological stress. There are risks of misdiagnosing a patient leading to them developing a life-threatening condition, or even death. Then there’s also the pressure of knowing that you could do everything right, and still lose a patient. It’s also hard breaking the news to a family member after their death. While grieving, family members often blame doctors for not doing the best they could to save the patient.
4. Doctors Have a Lot of Legal Liability
As a medical practitioner, you always have to worry about being involved in a lawsuit. Doctors want the best for their patients but also worry about whether or not their treatment will one day be used against them in court.
Patients have the right to sue a doctor if they prove the following:
- The doctor owed them a duty
- The doctor violated the expected standard of care
- The presence of compensable injury
- The violation of the standard of care caused harm to the patient
However, for the charges to stick, there needs to be sufficient evidence proving beyond a doubt that a doctor performed medical malpractice. However, if a doctor or hospital is found guilty for medical malpractice, then the court may order the hospital to award the patient economic, non-economic or punitive damages. In some state, there is no cap or limit to the damages a patient can be awarded.
- Glassdoor: Doctor Salaries
- AAMC: Graduation Rates and Attrition Rates of U.S. Medical Students
- American University School of Medicine Aruba: WHAT IS THE DROPOUT RATE FOR MEDICAL SCHOOL?
- American Medical Association: How many hours are in the average physician workweek?
- National Conference of State Legislatures: Medical Liability/Medical Malpractice Laws
- Medical News Today: What is medical malpractice?
- St. George’s University: How Hard Is Medical School? Students Tell All