The Bureau of Labor Statistics just issued the 2010 OCCUPATIONAL EMPLOYMENT AND WAGES Report which lists all the jobs in America, how many people work in them and their median and mean annual and hourly wages. Here are the top ten
Surgeons - $225,390
Anesthesiologists - $220,100
Oral Surgeons - $214,120
OB-GYN - $210,340
Orthodontists - $200,292
Internists - $189,480
Other Physicians - $180,870
General Practitioners - $173,850
Chief Executive Officers - $173,350
Psychiatrists - $167,610
Now these are national median wages. Some will be lower and some much higher. But they clearly demonstrate how high the compensation of doctors is when compared with the rest of the jobs in the country. By way of comparison, the median wage for lawyers was $129,440, for airline pilots was $115,300, Engineering Professors was $$96,480 and for all occupations in 2010 was $44,410.
So how do U.S. doctors compare to their counterparts in the rest of the world. The New York Times published an article providing those comparisons and doing it in a most useful way. Rather than just doing dollar comparisons, they adjusted wages for their relative purchasing power in each country,which appears in this graph. For General Practitioners, the US figure was $161,000, the highest other country was Great Britain with $118,000 and the median wage was $80,000. For Specialists, the U.S. was not first at $230,000. The honors went to the Netherlands at $$253,000 and Australia at $247,000. But the US was far above the median of $83,000.
Remember, these are not straight dollar comparisons. They are adjusted for purchasing-power parity — that is, adjusting the numbers so that $1,000 of salary buys the same amount of goods and services in every country. This provides a general sense of a physician’s standard of living in each nation.
No one would suggest that doctor salaries are the only contributor to the high cost of health care in this country compared with other countries. But it certainly is one of the factors. And I certainly hope than any doctor inclined to whine about how much he earns should take a moment to consider how well of he is compared with the average worker, including other professional workers, in the US and to his counterparts in other countries.