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How Do Surgeons Get Paid?

At first glance, one can quickly conclude that Australian surgeons are incredibly wealthy. After all, reports show that they can earn over $500,000 every year.

But the financial aspect of this career is complicated. The salary of surgeons depends on their performance, insurance policies, hospital regulations, and projects.

What are the factors behind a surgeon’s income?

There is a high demand for surgeons in Australia. According to the government’s Job Outlook website, surgery is a small field that will continue to advance in the coming years.

However, it is untrue that all surgeons receive the same high salary. Like every career, the surgical field requires potential, sacrifice, and specializations for financial success.

These factors influence surgeons’ salaries:

  • The demand for surgeons. Surgeons, in general, earn hundreds of thousands of dollars every year because their field is highly regulated and competitive. The medical school admissions and residency slots limit how many surgeons can work, making demand soar.
  • The location of their practice. Surgeons’ incomes directly depend on where they work. Those who work in rural areas and private practice earn less compared to surgeons in hospitals and cities.
  • Their experience and education. Surgeons must become a resident for several years before they can earn significantly high incomes. Finishing their training in prestigious universities can also influence their standing and employment in the field.
  • Their specialization. Statistics show that different surgical specialties bring varying annual salaries. For example, in Australia, neurosurgeons and ophthalmic surgeons earn more than their colleagues.

In the end, it is crucial to realize that being a surgeon is not an express ticket to a luxurious life. This career demands perseverance, intelligence, and even luck.

How are surgeons’ salaries calculated?

Hospitals compute and convert the surgeons’ relative value units (RVU), the monetary equivalent of the service they provide. The equation also includes the surgeons’ insurance payments, fees, and the base payment for surgeons.

The government and third-party companies working with the hospital can also mandate different fees and conversions.

Ultimately, the surgeons’ paychecks from the hospital will show the final result of this complicated calculation.

But surgeons in private practice must cover more expenses. They have to pay for their clinic’s rent, liability insurance costs, and their employee’s salaries.

Patients might also pay these surgeons aside from cash and checks. Surgeons in private practice have more personal relationships with their patients.

Because of this, they may also give their surgeons gifts as compensation. These presents may include furniture, meals, invitations, and favours.

What are the “side projects” that surgeons may take?

While surgeons receive stable income at hospitals, they may also practice elsewhere to earn more. They can host seminars, conduct research, and perform consultations. Certain surgeons can work with companies too.

Some surgeons even create new surgical treatments and devices. These provide these innovators with millions of dollars in patents and royalties.

One notable example is Dr Stephen Burkhart, an orthopedic surgeon from San Antonio, Texas. He is renowned as a pioneer in arthroscopy or joint-related surgery. Because of his inventions on shoulder implants and anchors, he earns over $20 million every year even after retiring.

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