Doctors Don’t Think They’re Rich (Even Though They Are)

I dunno. $156,000 sure sounds like an awful lot to me …

I’m well aware of the fact that I work in a field where people don’t make a lot of money. I mean, most journalists aren’t known for driving Bentleys, chartering private planes and chugging bottles of Cristal. That said, I still think a six-figure income is a heck of a lot of money. Doctors who actually make that kind of cash, however, don’t seem to agree.

The results of an annual physicians’ salary survey released this week found that lots of doctors don’t “feel” rich, even though, well, they are. Of the 24,000 physicians who responded, 45 percent agreed with the statement: “My income probably qualifies me as rich, but I have so many debts and expenses that I don’t feel rich.” Another 45 percent said their incomes are “no better than many nonphysicians,” and only 11 percent—11!!—said they actually consider themselves rich.

In case you’re wondering what doctors make in terms of dollars and cents, the survey broke that down, too:

Highest-Paid Physicians
1. Radiologists and orthopedic surgeons: $315,000
2. Cardiologists: $314,000 and
3. Anesthesiologists: $309,000

Lowest-Paid Physicians
1. Pediatricians: $156,000
2. Family medicine doctors: $158,000
3. Internal medicine doctors: $165,000

Those paychecks would make for some pretty tidy livings, don’t you think? Let’s put this in perspective with some stats courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau:

• Median household income in Philadelphia County: $36,251
• Median household income in Bucks County: $74,828
• Median household income in Montgomery County: $76,380

Look, I’m not saying doctors don’t deserve to be well compensated. Of course they do—they literally save lives. And obviously many of them have boatloads of loans to pay back thanks to all that extra schooling. But pulling in six figures and saying you don’t “feel” rich? That’s a tad much (and I’m sure your Shore house would agree with me).

I’d just like to say for the record that if anyone’s willing to pony up, I’d happily take $156,000 off your hands and tell you exactly how it makes me feel. (I accept cash or check.)

  • Ray

    I disagree with this authors premise that physicians are rich. Consider this, after you’ve spent 4 years in college and have racked up a considerable amount of student loan debt. Then 4 years of medical school and another 3 years of residency (6 if you include specialty), all the while only earning about 44k per year, and working on average 56 hours a week then 250k after 33% federal and 7% state is not a lot of money. In essence these physicians have dealt with a lot to even reach that earning potential and are worth every penny.