Want to make REAL money?

image_wealth.gifCosmetic medicine may not be the answer.

People both in and out of the medical field often comment on how much fun I must have at work.  And I actually do have a lot of fun.  I enjoy my job and I enjoy this field of medicine.  But it's still work.  And there are still problems as there are problems in any line of work.  But I always get a chuckle when people assume that since the office looks like a day spa and since our patients pay out of pocket, that any physician who works in cosmetic medicine must be rolling in the money.  I even hear that from other physicians.  My own ob/gyn is soon going to add cosmetic services to her practice so she "can finally get out of debt."  And while I think there are a few clinics out there that do exceptionally well.  For the most part adding cosmetic services to your current practice is like starting any new business.  For every Microsoft, there must be 5,000 others that fail.  Those odds of success and failure definitely apply to the field of cosmetic medicine.

Course most people think that all doctors are rolling in money.  I think most physicians earn a decent living, but when you take into account all the years in school, tuition, and the residency "stipend" that works out to be about minimum wage....well, I think there are a lot of easier ways to make that same amount of money.  Which is why I'm happy that I enjoy my work.  If I had entered medicine just to make money, then I might be disappointed that I didn't decide to become a plumber.  My plumber makes between $200 - $300 / hr and doesn't have to spend thousands on malpractice.  And he's so busy that his voicemail says don't even bother leaving a message if you are a new client.  He's already got all the work he needs.  And then he takes off to Mexico for 3 months out of the year.  Not that I'd want to muck around in some of the stuff he does.  But if you are only interested in money, then perhaps medicine isn't the right calling for you.  And if you are really interested in money, then cosmetic medicine may not be the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that you think it is.

In fact, perhaps you should head straight onto Wall Street.  Monday's (November 27,2006 Lure of Great Wealth Affects Career ChoicesNew York Times had a front page article about a hematology/oncology physician who was making about $150,000/year in clinical medicine.  But then he straddled over to Wall Street and is now earning over $1-2+ million a year.  He launched from "decent" money to "insane" money.  

We often hear about Drs. X, Y, and Z entering this field from all different types of specialties.  And I'm sure they are lured by the predictable hours and lack of insurance wrangling.  But if they are drawn by the ideas of wealth and grandeur, they might be sadly disappointed.