Being a surgeon is undoubtedly one of the most glamorous jobs a person can ask for. You know for a fact that when someone says they are a surgeon, they are definitely earning a great amount. With a median salary in the United States being$374,310, it’s an objective fact that surgeons are in the upper echelon of earners. One of the most common aspirations for children is to become a surgeon, thanks to the perceived notion of earning well, and the sheer glamor and prestige attached to the job. But that begs the question: Why do surgeons get paid so much in the first place? Well, there are a number of key factors to this.
For one thing, medical school is extremely expensive. The amount of investment that a medical student’s family puts into their education is staggering, with the average cost of med school in the United States totaling a whopping quarter of a million dollars. This is due to the fact that the faculties are always up-to-date, state-of-the-art laboratories meant to train medical students in only the best methods and technologies for their profession. In addition to this, medical school is part of a cycle where their alumni end up teaching for a semester or two, or even taking up permanent faculty positions. These are already accomplished surgeons in their own right, so it should come as no surprise that their teaching salaries are among the highest in the world.
Aside from the cost of the education itself, the studying and practice of surgery is among the most difficult fields in the world. The human body is an incredibly complex machine, with several systems, regions, and diseases involved in the body’s lifetime. It is the surgeon student’s job to diligently study and master these topics and lessons in order to be the best doctors they can be. This isn’t some ordinary desk job. The profession of surgery quite literally has human lives at stake, so it is imperative for medical students to stay up all night and absorb as much knowledge as possible, and to practice their craft as much as possible to ensure a 100% success rate in their operations.
It goes without saying that the mere study and preparation of the profession is already enough to justify their hefty salaries in the first place. In today’s world, it is simple economics where the term “You get what you pay for” rings more true than ever before. As patients, we pay for the knowledge and expertise of these professionals, and the many years of hard work they put in to get to where they are today.
Of course, this knowledge and experience is even more pronounced in specialized surgeons, as opposed to general surgeons. Specialized surgeons who focus on different body parts, organs, systems, and age groups are required to undergo even more training and studying, greatly increasing both the sheer knowledge and expertise they possess, and the salaries they command. Specialized surgeons are required to learn the very specific functions of the specialties they chose, and the potential diseases that may affect them, no matter how rare they may be. As such, the money earned by specialized surgeons is naturally even higher.
Of course, that’s not even talking about the actual, tangible stresses that surgeons go through on a daily basis. A surgeon often takes care of multiple patients in a day, sometimes with multiple operations happening at the same time. This would inevitably take a physical and mental toll on them as time goes on, and the sheer amount of labor that they put out is also another justification of their high salaries. Anyone who owns a car would know that getting it fixed also has a “labor fee” attached to the price tag. The same can be applied for surgeons. While their salaries more than make up for it, there is no erasing the fact that surgeons perform some of the most grueling, back-breaking work out there, which is further exacerbated by the fact that they are quite literally with life or death situations.
To add to the huge amount of labor that surgeons already do, most surgeons aren’t even restricted to just surgery. They are also consultancy doctors who deal with patients both before and after their operations. This puts a further strain in their schedules that they themselves need to plan out, and memorize ahead of time. Some of the more experienced and senior surgeons have also been assigned to lead certain medical teams which further specialize in different fields. It’s here where they mentor the newer generation, and this is also the period in their careers where they go from surgery to surgery, giving out their advice and recommendations for many different cases in one day. The most senior surgeons also get assigned hospital administration duties, which entails them to delegate tasks between staff, further putting a strain on their schedule.
All this is already bad enough, but surgeons also work some of the most taxing hours imaginable, with most of them doing a 6 day work week, with eight to ten hours being worked every day. This is because diseases and accidents don’t operate on any conceivable schedule, and that people who need medical attention may come through the hospital doors at any time. As such, surgeons must always remain vigilant and as available as possible to accommodate these patients. From this reason alone, anyone who’s familiar with the hourly paying scheme can see why they’re paid so much.
However, one of the more overlooked reasons why surgeons are so highly paid is because of insurance payments in hospital fees. For those who are unaware, these insurance fees are actually docked from the main salary of surgeons, in case some of their procedures go wrong. However, many surgeons have recently complained to their hospital administrators that the money they lose to insurance is a losing proposition, and that they demand reimbursement for the times the operation is a success. Thankfully, hospital administrations have conceded to their demands, and that is yet another source of income for surgeons.
The salaries that go to doctors is one of the main reasons why medical fees are so expensive in the first place. Aside from hospital accommodations and technology and equipment they use, you end up paying for the various intangibles that surgeons possess; Training, discipline, knowledge, expertise, and professionalism. No ordinary person would’ve gotten to where they are now, so it is only right that these remarkable individuals get compensated handsomely for their lifelong dedication to the Hippocratic Oath.