Career Review: Physicians and Surgeons

surgeon performing operation with his nurse and anaesthetist

Becoming a physician or a surgeon is the best advanced career in medicine because of its excellent salary and job availability.

Both career paths offer a wide range of specialties and job locations.

However, the malpractice insurance is the highest of all fields, and the education requirements are demanding

Physicians and surgeons are among the most common but needed medical professions.

These advanced careers in medicine offer many appealing benefits, including generally high salaries and job availability.

You also have a wide variety of specialization options to increase your chances of finding a position that fits your schedule and your interests.

The drawbacks include costly malpractice insurance and high student debt, but these medical careers get our Top Ten Reviews Gold Award for their overall excellent offerings for students looking into a long-term and rewarding healthcare career.

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These medical professions offer the highest salaries in every range, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In fact, the average salaries earned by the bottom 10 percent of physicians and surgeons is still higher than any salaries earned by the top 10 percent of workers in other healthcare careers.

Offsetting these salaries are the high premiums for malpractice insurance.

The average salary for these professions varies between $207,117 for people on a “low” wage, to $431,977 for those at the top of the profession.

Salary depends on a variety of factors. For instance, if you specialize, you can expect a higher salary.

Physicians working in specialty departments generally make closer to the high wage average than those working in primary care.

Different specialties offer higher pay than others, but the additional training and education needed for these areas are usually more intensive.

Of course, the more specialized and tricky your area of expertise, the higher your student loans and liability insurance may be.

Your salary also depends on other variables, such as your experience, location and employer.

If you are self-employed, your salary also depends on how many patients you have.

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Education and requirements

Basic education requirements for physicians and surgeons to begin working in the field require a four-year medical degree.

Requirements for admittance into these programs vary, but the field is competitive, particularly for the top schools.

In addition to a bachelor’s degree in a related field, you must pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) with a competitive score.

All schools in the United States require a recent MCAT score included with a student’s application.

Many pre-medical students choose to pursue bachelor’s degrees in areas like nursing or medical laboratory sciences.

These programs also allow you to begin working in the medical field before becoming a physician.

A few medical programs combine an undergraduate program with the main medical program.

After completing a medical program, students enter into residency programs where they work under the supervision and mentorship of an experienced physician.

These programs last anywhere from a couple years to a little less than a decade, depending on what specialty you choose.

All this schooling means student debt, but physicians and surgeons have the third highest debt of the healthcare careers we considered.

There are many programs available for scholarships or work-study.

In some cases, you can get your medical degree paid for by agreeing to work for the military, government or civilian organization after getting your degree.

Professional liability insurance, or malpractice insurance, is, on average, nearly six times that of the next highest premiums of any healthcare career we reviewed.

However, this varies wildly by specialty.

Some family practice doctors say their premiums are below $5,000/year, while some specialties like neurosurgery can have premiums in the hundreds of thousands. It can also vary by where you practice.

New York, for example, has higher insurance premiums in general.

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Job Availability

As reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more jobs available for physicians and surgeons than for any other advanced medical field job.

The anticipated job growth percentage for this profession is also a little higher than the national average for all occupations, although average for advanced medical careers.

There are also more new jobs estimated to open for physicians and surgeons.

This healthcare job also has one of the lowest reported unemployment rates.

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Work Environment

Physicians work in a variety of environments. Your overall career opportunities depend on your chosen specialization.

You can work in hospitals, local clinics or private practices.

Doctors are needed by the government, the military and charitable organizations.

You can even find work as a consultant for insurance companies and medical corporations.

Each employer comes with its own requirements as far as schedules, paperwork, additional requirements and benefits.

For example, a private practice lets you control your schedule, but you always have to be able to manage a business and all parts of the medical practice to be effective.

Hospitals may have additional paperwork requirements but offer steady work.

Government and military positions pay less, but the government provides your malpractice insurance and may pay for your education.

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Physicians and surgeons work in a variety of specializations and with a wide range of employers.

If you choose to enter this field, you can expect many years of school and training both before and after medical school, which may be difficult if you have limited financial resources.

However, this medical profession offers the highest salaries and some of the best job opportunities.

A career as a physician or surgeon is an overall excellent option if you are looking to enter into an advanced medical career field.