In April, Medicare spewed out some schismatic physician-payment numbers. The blast of decontextualized data said that one ophthalmologist received $12 million in payments. Another 4,000 physicians took in over $1 million in 2012 just from Medicare Part B. The New York Times' number generator let readers type in a doctor's name and get a dollar amount. In a lot of cases, physicians came off looking seriously flush with cash.
Those numbers and the accompanying "Go to medical school, you can make more than Lebron" implications were misleading in that they represent revenue, not profit. Like so many doctors, knowing there's a difference between revenue and profit is around the upper limit of my financial acumen. Most of what I know comes from Shark Tank, but I do know that. According to Medscape, right now the average pediatrician makes $173,000, the average neurologist makes $217,000, general surgeon $279,000, radiologist $349,000, and, at the highest end, the average orthopedic surgeon makes $405,000.
So doctors are earning very solid salaries, once they are done with their training. Of course, medical school is expensive. The average graduate carries a debt of $169,000. Less talked about is the salaries doctors make during their first years after finishing medical school, before they begin independent practice, known as residency and fellowship. Today Medscape published its annual results of a national survey of how much doctors are making during that time.