The debate is going on in China with the topic of ‘How clinicians should engage in research’ (1,2). Since research may not apparently generate direct income for the employer hospital, then how the time spent on research should be paid remains another concern. A related question is how scientific researchers and clinicians are paid differently. This question is relevant for the medical graduates who may choose to pursue a full time research career. Scientific researchers and clinicians have different working styles, and how they are paid varies from one country to another country. We conducted a short survey, one contributor each from France, Hong Kong, India, Japan, South Korea, The Netherlands, Taiwan, UK, and USA were invited respectively, and eight questions were asked, i.e.,:
- The competition for medical school enrolment is (i) very high (vhi); (ii) high (hi); or (iii) same competition as other science subjects (sam);
- The tuition fee for medical school is (i) higher than other science subjects (hi); (ii) same as other science subjects (sam); (iii) no fee, subsidized by the state;
- Compared with a science faculty member, the working hours of a clinical faculty member in a university hospital tends to be (i) much longer (ml); (ii) slightly longer (sl); (iii) similar working hours (simil). For this question, average performance is assumed;
- The insurance cost for medical negligence is paid (i) by the clinician him/herself (doc); (ii) by the university (uni);
- Is there any income difference among different clinical specialty?
- The ratio (A/B) of net income of a junior doctor during the first 2 yrs after medicine degree (MBBS, or MD in North America), i.e., (A) during residency vs. (B) net income of a science degree graduate (BSc) during first 2 yrs. Hereby net income means average income after tax and after insurance cost for medical negligence if this is paid by the clinician him/herself. This is the same for questions 7 and 8;
- The ratio (C/D) of the net income of an university physician during the first 2 yrs after residency, i.e., (C) as junior specialist in internal medicine vs. (D) the net income of a junior science lecturer or a newly appointed assistant professor;
- The ratio (E/F) of net income of (E) a senior clinical faculty member vs. (F) a senior science faculty member.
The answers to the questions are summarized in the Table 1. The survey shows the entry to medical schools tends to more competitive than science subjects, while the tuition fee can be higher in some countries. Overall, clinical faculty members can earn 1.5-2 times the income of science faculty members, while science faculty members enjoy less working hours. Clinical faculty members tend to work longer hours than science faculty members, only in USA science faculty members need to work as many hours as clinical faculty members.
This is a very small scale survey. The results in this study should be interpreted with caution. The contributors were asked to provide reliable data, but the data were not asked to be very precise. Answers are inherently subjective. This survey is focused on university staff members. Doctors in private practice generally have higher income, but this also varies according to their reputation and social network. Scientists in private sectors, such as pharmaceuticals and biotech, are generally paid more than those in universities.
In some societies, salary is not something openly discussed about. This short survey offers some indications how much income different careers may lead to, and also the possible working hour difference. Hope readers will find the information useful, or at least interesting.
Disclosure: The authors declare no conflict of interest. The data are approximate and the authors bear no responsibility in cases of inaccuracy.
- Zhang Z, Winston GP, Zhao HT, Oei EH, Ai Q, Loffroy R, Lin T, Shen Y, Ng CK, Liu H, Civelek AC, Han Z, He YM, Ji LY, Wáng YX. Focus on China: should clinicians engage in research? and lessons from other countries. Quant Imaging Med Surg 2014;4:413-25. [PubMed]
- Duvivier R, Crocker-Buqué T, Stull MJ. Young doctors and the pressure of publication. Lancet 2013;381:e10. [PubMed]