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surgeons with masks in operating room

Surgeons Salary Higher Than Other Doctors

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Surgeons make more than a lot of people, and, in many cases, more than other types of doctors. While this can seem unfair, the truth is that there are some good reasons to explain this income disparity. Below are some of the main reasons that surgeons are so well compensated.

  • Length of training. Surgeons, on average, are in school longer than most other physicians – in some cases, significantly longer. For example, an internal medicine physician could begin practice after a 3-year residency. A cardiothoracic surgeon, on the other hand, takes on a 6- to 8-year residency and will often follow that up with more training to complete a fellowship.
  • Malpractice costs. Some of the highest malpractice costs hit surgeons, with neurological surgeons and obstetricians paying among the highest rates in the country, according to the American Medical Association. A surgeon’s salary must be able to absorb that cost. Some surgeons pay annual premiums as high as $45,000, much more than many other types of physicians.
  • Life and death decisions. Cancer surgeons, brain surgeons, and heart surgeons regularly manage life and death procedures and pull in a higher salary because of that overwhelming risk. The extreme amount of stress is judged to be worth more in compensation.

Surgeon’s Salary Ranked

While surgeons are highly compensated, only two types of surgeons are listed on the top ten physician earners in the Medscape Physician Compensation report for 2015. As you can see below, many other types of medicine are more lucrative:

  1. Orthopedics — $421,000
  2. Cardiology — $376,000
  3. Gastroenterology — $370,000
  4. Anesthesiology — $358,000
  5. Plastic Surgery — $354,000
  6. Radiology — $351,000
  7. Urology — $344,000
  8. Dermatology — $339,000
  9. General Surgery — $317,000
  10. Emergency Medicine — $306,000

Other Factors

Compensation should be only one factor when considering what type of medicine to study. Among some of the top earners in the Medscape survey, less than half said they felt fairly compensated for the job they did. A large percentage also indicated that they wouldn’t necessarily choose the same specialty if they had the opportunity to do it again.

If you’re considering a career in medicine, make sure you do extensive research before you make any final decisions. Consider factors like working conditions, your own personality, and your long-term goals in addition to how much money you’ll earn.

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