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Valuing a Medical License and Yourself

It is hard to ascertain the true cost of a medical license. The true cost can be quite high if one factors in the years of lost revenues during medical school and residency, the interest expense and fees during forbearance. The educational requirements to become a physician require 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school and 3+ years of residency. An individual without a college degree could easily obtain a job (truck driver, construction, coal mining) for 30K/year. This lost potential revenue a physician endures from college through medical school is conservatively estimated at $240K. College and Medical School tuition can easily exceed $300K and at 7% interest, the total educational cost including interest expense would exceed $600K. If one factors in the depressed wages based on the hours worked during residency, one can easily justify that the cost of a medical license can exceed 1 million dollars.

This knowledge is critical to understanding how diminished the physician’s standing is in our current healthcare environment. The highly "corporatized" healthcare environment has made is very difficult for physicians to set their own fee schedules. These corporate structures have allowed management and Locum companies to interdict themselves into the physician employment relationship. Locums companies use a monetary restriction as low as $20K and as high as $90K to hold a price on the physician. The Locums company offers very little to the physician. They find work opportunities and add the physician on to their medical malpractice master policy. They do not schedule, offer business services or even pay for travel expenses (these are passed on to the facility). The Locums company typically keeps about 30% of the compensation earned by the physician. The physician is not able to write off those earnings by the Locums agency because the Locums agency is paid by the facility first. And yet, the Locums agency has the monetary restriction over the physician.

Understanding the value of a medical license in this context is critical for physicians to regain the respect and control in their professional practice that they deserve. This point is one lesson of many whereby physicians should know their value and know who they are as conveyed is OSMD’s motto, Temet Nosce or “Know Thyself”.

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