Are Doctors in India are Grossly Underpaid?
Why don't doctors get paid well in India despite working so hard and being the best brains in the country?
Yes, Doctors in India are Grossly Underpaid!
Dr Ajit Tawde
The Medical Profession operates on its own island of competency as well as qualification. It is costly to become a doctor, both in terms of money and time. Medical colleges across India have become expensive to attend with hefty off-book capitation fees extracted from incoming students. Moving towards specialisation post MBBS can mean that doctors are upwards of 30 years in age before they start earning meaningfully. The question is, is it worth the wait and the cost to become a doctor in India? Is the return on investment meaningful? Healthcare has started growing as a sector in India, but this is from a low base. Specifically, the majority of capacity in India is nursing homes with less than 30 beds. Oftentimes these do not comply in terms of square footage per bed prescribed by hospital standards, but are adding significant capacity to the country. Building up occupancy is difficult, as doctors need to promote their practices alongside offering superlative patient treatment, the two of which can be full time jobs in and of their own, even as often times families in their entirety are involved in operations. Finance and operations management are also not disciplines heavily emphasised in medical education. Doctor salaries in India can be highly variable, for instance by some accounts, post MBBS doctors with 5.5 years of training earn between Rs. 10,000 – 40,000 per month, post MD/MS doctors with 9-12 years of training earn Rs. 30,000 to 200,000 per month, and post DM/MCh fellowship doctors earn Rs. 50,000 to 300,000 per month. These are median estimates. Of course, there are superstar doctors who break the budgets of even the largest corporate hospitals, but these are few and far between. This contrasts starkly to the picture in the United States, according to Medscape, the average general surgeon makes $279,000 per year, the average radiologist makes $349,000 per year, the average neurologist makes $217,000 per year, and on the highest end, the average orthopaedic surgeon makes $405,000 per year. Even accounting for purchasing power parity, this is massive delta. Are doctors in India earning enough? Is this because of doctors’ own faults, ecosystem shortfall, lack of demand, lack of support from the government, or otherwise. Would you recommend yours or your friends’ children pursue medicine as their field of study?
No, Doctors are well paid in India!
Dr Arun Arachelvan
I would like to disagree. Doctors are well paid in India. Yes there are no fancy placement packages that go in as soon as you graduate . But the median salaries of doctors i.e the salaries that an average doctor would make is higher than any other profession. There are reasons for this.
The salaries in a field is largely determined by a demand supply inequality. The demand for doctors as for other healthcare professional far out strips their supply. So an average doctor irrespective of the medical school he graduates from in India would find employment options that give him a decent pay package.
Secondly medicine is a relatively recession proof profession. This is because during times of recession the need for healthcare increases due to the stress that accompanies such situations. So it is rare that a doctor is unemployed even though he wants to work.
Medicine is a profession that rewards you with time. You do not start big but with time other avenues of income open up. Its one of the rare fields where one is paid by rival corporations for doing the same job for them due to a lack of staff. For e.g in the city where I did my medical schooling from there was 1 oncologist on call for at least 7 different hospitals.
If you ask anybody in an interview nowadays the underlying query he/she has is 'show me the money!' as in one simply wants to opt for the field that pays the highest. Then later when they realise that this response is seen as being greedy the second response they say is that we want to do something for charity. I genuinely believe the best doctors(both academically and financially) are those who have charity built into their practice. It does not mean big fancy donations which get published in newspapers. it means assessing the finances of an individual and giving respite to those who are less fortunate then others.
Lastly when we talk of idols, I would like to elaborate on people like Dr.Naresh Trehan(Medanta) and Dr. Devi Shetty(Narayana hrudalaya). These are rockstars as far as medical fields are concerned. Their net worth runs into billions yet they push themselves each day to improve healthcare in India.