Thursday, April 4, 2013

Remind Yourself Again Why You Went Into Medicine

Remember how happy you made your parents when you decided to become a doctor? Your mom couldn't wait to tell all her friends that her special offspring was smarter than all their kids because you were going to do something more meaningful, and lucrative, by applying to medical school. She could finally be the queen bee at her tennis club because her child will be an M.D. All the other moms can just go cry in their metropolitans and rue the day their children didn't want to be a medical professional and became a mundane software engineer with a four year degree instead.

Well now who has the last laugh? Business Insider has listed the companies that pay the highest salaries to software engineers. Let me tell you, the money ain't bad. It's fairly comparable to many primary care physicians' incomes. Companies like Juniper Networks, Google, Apple, and Facebook all start their base salaries for software engineers at over $100,000. And that's just the base salaries. It doesn't include stock options, the manna of tech company employees. They are particularly valuable for employees who work at companies that haven't gone public yet like Twitter. Facebook's IPO was estimated to have generated 1,000 new millionaires alone.

Besides the money, tech companies are infamous for lavishing outlandish perks on their employees. Google's workplace is known for giving employees free gourmet food night and day, free gyms, free dry cleaning, even free healthcare with an onsite doctor available to employees. How much of that generosity is enjoyed by the workers who don't have to pay a dime of income tax on those benefits? In the meantime laws have been passed that keep physicians from accepting even stupid gratuities like a box of doughnuts and free pens.

Plus there's just an aura around people who work at one of these corporate leaders. As one Apple employee wrote, "...everyone says 'wow' when you tell them where you work." I know a few people who work at these places and the reaction is always one of admiration and envy. You can't help but wonder how smart they must be in order to be hired by Google or Facebook. When was the last time you had that reaction when you met a doctor?

Well Dr. Z, all that may be true, but as an anesthesiologist you probably make two or three times that much money every year. Yes, the average salary of an anesthesiologist, or gastroenterologist, or orthopedic surgeon is several times that of the software engineer. But the real question is how much income is your peace of mind and free time worth to you? How much money would you place on your anxiety of knowing that any patient who walks through your door is a potential medical malpractice case? How much money would you pay to not have to sit through a deposition because your patient decided to sue you for a broken tooth during intubation. How much money would you give back if you could work an eight or nine hour shift and enjoy every night and weekend with family and friends without worrying about some sick patient in the hospital? Any doctor who has ever been sued will tell you that all those sleepless nights and constant fear and paranoia after getting subpoenaed is not worth the satisfaction of practicing medicine. They would gladly give back all their money if they didn't have to face a malpractice suit ever again.

Remind yourself again why you decided to go into medicine.

1 comment:

  1. As a patient I thank you for your service and hope that us grateful patients can outweigh the sue happy ones. There has been two instances where I could have sued a doctor/dentist but chose not to. A broken tooth? Absurd.

    People make mistakes but if you are not going to be permanently disabled or die then you shouldn't sue. When people sue over every tiny trivial mistake then it ruins it for when someone seriously should take action due to an egregious act.