Fair Pay, Flirting, & Other Fun Topics

Physician's Money Digest, September 2007, Volume 14, Issue 9

Are you paid fairly? Are you sure of your answer? In a recent survey of 50 doctors by New York Magazine, exactly half felt that "yes," physicians are paid fairly. Yet when the same doctors were asked if they personally are paid fairly, 40 of the 50 answered "no." That's just one of the more amusing and interesting findings in the magazine's June 18 "The 50-Doctor Poll."

A Doctor's Bottom Line

Approximate physician annual salaries ran across the board, although the greatest number (15) made between $50,000 and $99,000. Four made less than $50,000; four made between $100,000 and $149,000; 10 made between $150,000 and $249,000; eight made between $250,000 and $499,000; two made between $500,000 and $999,000; and two made more than $2 million. Keep in mind this is the New York region. Reasons given for undercompensation were listed as: "HMO policies," "I work 100 hours a week," "Residents equal slave labor," and "The money goes to insurance companies, lawyers, and pharmaceutical companies with good lobbyists."

While most physicians felt the worst parts of being a doctor were the hours (30) and hospital politics (22), they felt the best parts were the intellectual challenge (40) and helping people (33). More than one answer could be chosen for this question. Money, which was provided as a choice for both the best or worst part of the profession, had nine doctors include it under the "worst part" section, while only two included it in the "best part."

Clearly, money is not a large motivating factor in the profession. In fact, when asked, "Why did you become a doctor?" the number-one choice revealed doctors' essentially altruistic side. The large majority (44) answered, "Wanted to help people."

It's Not You, It's Me

Other questions, like the fair pay issue, revealed "everyone but me" mindsets. For instance, while more than half of doctors (29) felt physicians in general don't spend enough time with patients, the great majority (35) said they personally spend enough time. Only 12 admitted they didn't.

The greatest contrast was when the doctors were asked if those in their profession have "God complexes." While more than half of those surveyed (28) said "yes," physicians fall prey to this ego condition, only two confessed that they themselves have such a complex. The other 48 answered "no."

Web’s Worth: For the full survey, go to www.nymag.com. And be sure to also check out “The 50-Nurse Poll” for nurses’ real opinions of doctors.

Still other questions covered taboo topics. When asked if doctors ever get turned on by patients, 26 responded "never," yet 22 admitted "sometimes." Another 35 confessed that doctors and nurses "sometimes" flirt in the operating room. And 15 of the 50 doctors answered "yes" to the question, "Do you ever get grossed out?"