Why Doctors Complain: A History Of Physician Income

Wed, 09/05/2012 - 6:20am
Richard Patterson, M.D.

We’re not going for sympathy here. Doctors as a whole enjoy less sympathy than many other professional groups (members of Congress enjoy the least, I would think), and that’s probably appropriate. They have high incomes and many prerogatives and rank highly in esteem polls as individuals, if not as a group. It’s not where they are that is causing the grieving, it is where they are coming from.

Let’s deal with the elephant: money. We can begin there because it is so obvious.

While a comprehensive history of physician income is beyond the reach of this blog, it is fair to say that from the early to mid-twentieth century, being a doctor meant earning a solidly middle class income. There were disparities, then as now, between the uptown, high society specialist and the rural, payment-in-kind GP, but all were at least comfortable, and the more entrepreneurial built their own hospitals and/or manufactured their own patent medicines. Their fees were a matter of personal discretion and could vary without constraint, except for the patient’s ability to pay.

Continue reading...


Share this Story

You may login with either your assigned username or your e-mail address.
The password field is case sensitive.