Physician Salary

Being a physician is one of the most desired and reputable jobs in the country. If we look only at the most popular TV shows of the past decades, we easily notice that doctors of all kinds comprise a fascinating topic to citizens everywhere and that the desirability of the job isn’t declining anytime soon. A physician is a doctor in every respect minus the great stress and responsibility which come as extras for those doctors who decide to be surgeons. Since becoming a physician requires a lot of training, the Physician salary and benefits are impressive enough to match the demands. Here is what you need to know about what to expect from a physician salary and all the potential factors that may help you attain an even higher income value working as one.

Overview of a Licensed Physician Salary

The median salary for primary care physicians was $220,942 in May 2012*, which is considerably higher than all other occupations, for which the median salary was $34,759. This means that half of all hired primary care physicians earned a bit less than this sum in 2012, and the other half of them earned a bit more than this median value. If we’re talking about physicians hired in specialty fields, then the salaries were even higher; the median value for 2012 was as follows: $431,977 for anesthesiology, $337,885 for general surgery, $301,737 for obstetrics/gynecology, $224,110 for internal medicine, $220,252 for the psychiatry field, $216,069 for pediatric and adolescent medicine, and $207,117 for family practice physicians.

Overall, physicians have earned more than $90 per hour in 2012*, an hourly pay much higher than those of other occupations. The figures are very high, which explains in part why the job is a very desirable one, with a lot of in-field competition.

*According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, bls.gov.

Earning Factors of a Physician Salary

A physician’s salary may vary according to various factors, such as whether the physician is working in a hospital or in a private practice (those in hospitals tend to be paid more), or on their level of experience (interns earn the least of all physicians, followed by the residents, and topped by the fully qualified physicians)*. Geography is an important earnings factor as well in determining a physician’s salary, since the overall region where they live and work can influence their pay greatly. For example, the median income of a physician in the Northwest region of the United States was $188,000 in 2012, whereas the median income of a physician in the Midwest was $213,000 in the same year.

*According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, bls.gov.

Physician Job Description

Both physicians and doctors are medical professionals who diagnose and treat all sorts of illnesses and conditions which affect the quality of life of the patients or which even threaten it. But while surgeons focus on operating and diagnosing operable conditions, the physicians are responsible for the rest of the medical care that patients need. Physicians examine every patient that comes into the hospital or into their practice (depending on their place of employment) and take their medical history. Next, based on the initial evaluation, they order, perform and interpret the tests which the patient may need, and based on the results they reach a diagnostic for the patient. Depending on the diagnostic, they are then in charge of overseeing the patient’s care treatment plan and guiding them to a better health state.

The Physician job description also includes the following tasks: filling in and updating the patient’s charts in order to keep track of current developments and undergone treatments, reviewing and interpreting test results in order to highlight any abnormal findings and reaching a diagnosis, recommending and designing a plan of treatment, as well as some treatment alternatives for the patient to choose from, if possible, addressing any concerns and questions which the patient may have about their health and the best way to proceed, as well as discussing tangent topics with the patient as well, if they play an important role in maintaining their health and well-being (topics such as life-style, diet, hygiene practices and so on). Last, but not least, physicians are also supposed to order basic tests and basic medical procedures for nurses or other medical professionals to perform and to keep track of their activity. As a job downside, the hours worked by a physician can be pretty long and unpredictable, depending on emergencies, whether they are on call and so on.

Physician Job Outlook

The Physician job outlook  seems particularly encouraging for professionals in this field: the employment growth of all physicians and surgeons is expected to rise by 18%  (123,300 new job positions) from 2012 to 2022*. This impressive growth rate is higher than the average for all other occupations and is related to the overall growth of all healthcare service industries. As the consumers will start looking for better and more advanced care, provided with the help of sophisticated technologies and at standards higher than before, the need for physicians will also rise. On a side note, the Physician job outlook should remain particularly good for physicians willing to get a job in rural or low-income areas, as these are the ones in the greatest need of medical care, and they have been generally eluded by the interest of medical practitioners so far.

*According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, bls.gov.

Physician Education Requirements

In order to become a physician, you need to complete challenging educational tasks, stretched out over a long period of time. Almost all physicians complete 8 years of school (4 in an undergraduate program and 4 in a graduate medical school), followed by 3 to 8 years enrolled in an internship program and a residential one (the number of years on these last stages varies depending on the specialty they choose). Before applying to a medical graduate school, you need to have a bachelor’s degree and to have a record of undergraduate courses in chemistry, biology, physics, mathematics and English (though no specific major is required for the bachelor’s). The application process is highly competitive, and prospective students struggle creating an application file as impressive as possible, by providing transcripts, letters of recommendation and the scores from the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test). After medical school, comes the internship program, and after that the residency period, where the freshly graduated physicians work under the supervision of other more experiences physicians. Only after the residency is also finished and graduated from the physician is considered fully-trained and ready to take on a full practice.

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