While many Americans complain about the costs of healthcare: insurance, hospital bills, paperwork, and medicine, relatively few begrudge doctors making a good living. After all, they study for years to achieve their degrees and usually graduate in deep debt. Then most of them work really hard to manage illness, improve our health, and save our lives. How much money do doctors actually make? It depends on their specialty and in what part of the country they work. According to Medscape’s annual Physicians Compensation Report, the doctors you actually see regularly make the least and specialists make quite a bit more. Do doctors believe they are making enough? Strangely, the biggest difference in satisfaction are two specialties that are close together both on the chart and on the body: dermatologists and plastic surgeons.
Dermatologists were the most likely to say their compensation was fair; plastic surgeons were the least likely.
While dermatologists earn $308,000 and plastic surgeons earn $321,000, 65% of dermatologists are satisfied with their careers, compared to just 37% of plastic surgeons. And only about one in four dermatologists spends more than 40 hours a week seeing patients, compared to more than half of plastic surgeons.
That suggests that the demands and joys of the job shape how much compensation seems "fair" more than just the salary itself.