The next time you or your loved one undergoes a major surgery, it might be performed by a doctor who would rather be doing nose jobs.
The New York Times discussed the movement of medical students toward the fields of dermatology and plastic surgery in an article Wednesday.
The appealing nature of these fields stems from the American focus on external appearance. And with the increased demand for designer surgery comes an increase in compensation.
“It is an unfortunate circumstance that you can spend an hour with a patient treating them for diabetes and hypertension and make $100, or you can do Botox and make $2,000 in the same time,” dermatologist Dr. Eric C. Parlette told the Times.
Americans are willing to pay for acne relief as if it were a disease, and desire to cure wrinkles as if they were a cancer.
One of the primary reasons medical students find the field so attractive is that many are saddled with large education debts. The Association of American Medical Colleges reports that the average debt of a medical school graduate in 2007 was $139,517.
This steers students toward more lucrative fields. The Times reported that an internist earns an average of $191,525 annually while a dermatologist earns an average of $390,274.
“Seniors accepted in 2007 as residents in dermatology and two other appearance-related fields – plastic surgery and otolaryngology – had the highest median medical-board scores and the highest percentage of members in the medical honor society among 18 specialties,” stated the Times. Fields more vital to human survival are receiving the short end of the stick.
Harvard Law School is making efforts to rectify a similar scenario among law students. The Times reported that, in order to encourage public service, Harvard will offer a $40,000 tuition reduction for students who “pledge to spend five years working for either non-profit organizations or the government.” This is in addition to a student loan forgiveness program.
It is unfortunate that a similar program will likely be needed in the medical field to counter the financial disparities between breast augmentations and intestinal disorders.
There are many important issues that can be resolved by plastic surgeons, dramatically increasing one’s quality of life. Dermatologists deal with skin cancer and other threatening issues. But when treating patients who want Botox is more profitable than treating the diabetes epidemic, it reveals how poor societal prioritization can affect an industry as critical as health care.