Making a living in health care


(revised on 12/29/2015, new info underlined)

Previously I wrote about physician salaries after Medscape magazine reported the annual physician salary survey.  In it I explained  how doctors are paid and  where other  health care dollars  go. It became one of my most viewed posts.

My fellow physician blogger Dr. Kristen Prentis Ott has compiled a report detailing how people  make a living in health care. The report lists the earnings of different physician specialties , and other  healthcare professionals, including nurses and the length of training required by each job. You may not have  personal friends who are MDs or DOs but I bet someone in your family or social circle works in another of these  professions.


cropped logos final (2)


Before you read Dr. Ott’s piece, I’ll explain about doctors’ income.

We don’t get salaries in the strict sense of the word. While some physicians may have a set annual salary, or hourly rate, most physician income is  based on how many patients they treat; office visits, surgeries, procedures, xray or lab consultations (which can be remote, so called telemedicine).

For most doctors, income is directly tied to how many patients we see in a given day, month, or year.

I found some of these income figures  surprising. The income for primary care doctors, that is family medicine, internal medicine and pediatrics seems high to me, at least for  where I live ( there are regional differences in what doctors are pain, even within the same specialty). Physicians are paid while in residency, which can last from 3 to 7 years, depending on specialty. Residents receive a yearly salary, which is far below what they will earn in practice.


Absent from the chart in Dr. Ott’s post are the support positions, those people in a hospital or clinic who don’t have medical training but whose work enables the rest of us to do our jobs.

These include receptionists, customer service reps, maintenance, laundry, housekeeping, security, human resources, billing and coding.

Nor does it include IT (information technology)  professionals; the use of  medical computer devices and  applications, called medical informatics, is now  a specialized profession.

Also missing are dieticians, nutritionists, chefs and kitchen support.

Other  occupations  directly or indirectly contribute to health care. If you make a living in  health care , please tell us about it in the comments.  Add your income too if you want.


taking blood pressure
measuring blood pressure- a skill most health professionals learn
Laboratory testing is vital to providing health care.













MRI machine
Diagnostic imaging- CAT, MRI and PET scanning have increased our ability to see inside the human body compared to plain x ray.



According to the Bureau of Labor statistics (U.S. Department of Labor) –

The health care and social assistance sector will account for over a third of the nation’s projected job growth from 2014 to 2024.

Most of the fastest growing occupations are in health care. 


I appreciate everyone who devotes their life to helping me and other physicians deliver quality health care in our communities. Despite all the challenges, I think we have picked the most noble profession .  Thank you.


Doctors and other health professionals don’t always make a living practicing medicine or nursing . Find out why here.

Read Dr. Ott’s post at this link-

What It Takes to Have a Career in Medicine

Weekend words from Luke


When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth.

And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him. 

Luke 2:39-40


children's chapel in New Mexico
Santo Nino de Atocha chapel- Holy Child of Atocha chapel Chimayo, New Mexico


via Santo Nino de Atocha Chapel – Four Corners Region Geotourism Mapguide.


More words  from Luke’s Gospel

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