Do Doctors Make Bank?

David C

I’m a physician that often bridges very dif­fer­ent worlds. Voca­tion­ally, my foci are in inter­nal med­i­cine and pedi­atrics. Geo­graph­i­cally, I grew up in the sub­urbs but now live in the inner city. Eth­ni­cally, I’m Asian and Amer­i­can. Socially, I’m an intro­vert that enjoys pub­lic speak­ing (mainly as a plat­form for ideals). Polit­i­cally, I lean center-left but with largely fun­da­men­tal­ist Chris­t­ian moral­ity. Aca­d­e­m­i­cally, I’ve stud­ied engi­neer­ing, med­i­cine, and health pol­icy. Faith-wise, I am decid­edly Christian.

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3 Responses

  1. Kerwin Borntrager says:

    Dave,

    I greatly appreciate your thoughtful post. To answer your question in a straight forward way is difficult but as a physician assistant my short answer would be no in the present but yes in the past. Thirty years ago it was my understanding that private practice could be quite lucrative. As someone fully imersed in medicine I now have the highest respect for young clinicians as yourself who are paying the price to be a MD. From a strictly rational financial perspective the field is one of insanity. Huge debt, a broken system, bureaucracy beyond imagination, and long hours to cap off the exhaustion. One’s efforts in the financial aspect could be multiplied several times over in finance or business. Unfortunately because of healthcare expenses and older MD’s and specialist flaunting wealth societies perception of the current climate for MD’s remain quite skewed. I believe the beauty for individuals such as yourself will one day be manifest in the sacrifice. God knows the burden you bare in contrast to the idealic stigma. I trust that a new generation of God fearing, compassionate, and poverty oriented clinicians can rise up and reform or transform our broken system into the honored place which medicine deserves. In fact a climate hostel financial insentives is a great place for this revolution to emerge. I intentionally took a lower paying difficult job at the the jail to protect my own soul in these financially driven times. In the end that young mans questions are best answered by our example in daily living. No words will speak like our personal choices to forsake wealth and personal comforts to invest our financial resources in kingdom causes. Dave I believe you life models this and is a great encouragement to myself. Keep up the most Holy struggle.

  2. soapie says:

    i wrestle with this all the time too. i hear my coworkers (clinical support staff), neighbors, friends at church say things like, “You’re a nurse, you must be makin’ the big bucks… you can afford to buy us cake [or cough drops or OTC analgesics or lunch, etc.”

    And in my head I think to myself (do you know how much poop and mucus and vomit i have had to clean up to get paid my always under appreciated salary that will never be enough??) I am constantly feeling like it is never enough.…

    1) I’ve learned though, that no matter how I view it, no matter how I justify it to them, people will see it from their perspective, and they aren’t able to see it through any one else’s lenses. so my experience, history, doesn’t matter. to them, i’m college educated, they’re not. i was never a drop out, they were. i never was forced to join a gang, but they were. etc. they just can’t relate so really..there’s no point in arguing..

    2) in a sermon last year, Dr.Tim Keller, gave a message about the dangers of money. (Luke 18:18–30) He taught how money distorts our self view (blinds us to who we are) and makes it hard to repent because we feel so
    confident about ourselves.

    thus i must ask God daily to renew His passion within me so that I may strive to live for His glory alone,and not place my hopes n the world’s measure of success.

    • J says:

      @soapie, people say that to you? I remember always thinking “this job is SO draining! But I can’t work any less or I won’t make anything at all.” And I still feel this way.

      Our healthcare system is so insurance driven that quality of care doesn’t seem to matter, only numbers matter-number of patients seen, number of procedures done, number of scripts written. It’s like Williy Wonka’s chocolate factory. Educating the patient, coördinating care with other providers, making sure they understand why they need to take their meds, explaining their dx, none of that stuff counts in the insurance world.

      At least the MDs have more freedom to choose to walk away from certain positions that are unprofitable, unethical, or overly unsafe practices. NPs are stuck somewhere in the middle with less credibility but the same (or even higher) expectations and workload thrown at us. Regardless of how much education, the cost of the education, or how much experience you have, it’s still a life of second class citizenship. lol end of rant.

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