taking care of the future of our country, but they’re paid
pennies compared to every other specialty.”
The average salary of a pediatrician in the United States
is $181,000, according to a 2014 physician compensation
report by specialty from Medscape. The average amount of
debt that medical students graduate with is $170,000. That
kind of financial burden is daunting to young doctors who
are eager to begin practicing and may be making big (and
expensive) life decisions, such as marriage and kids, says Ho.
“That’s a hard thing to sign up for when you’ve basically
given up your 20s to go into med school and residency, and
at the end of the day you don’t get to enjoy it from a financial
perspective,” she says.
Ho has significant medical school debt, though not
quite as much as the national average of $170,000. But
even if her debt was $170,000, the average salary for emer-
gency medicine is $272,000, which is a generous cushion
to pay off her debt while living the comfortable lifestyle
Money was not her only consideration. Ho considered
being a surgeon. But a pediatric surgeon who mentored Ho
warned her the hours were long and didn’t leave much room
for anything else.
“She looked at me and said, ‘Amy, I’m 46. I’ve never had
a relationship longer than two years. I really wanted kids. I
really wanted to be married.’ That kind of terrified me, so
I took her words to heart,” says Ho.
Younger physicians may be distancing themselves from
the days when a personal life took second priority to the profession, but Ho says it also means she is dissociated from the
frustration of midcareer and older doctors, such as Brenner.
“My generation didn’t come in thinking we were going to
go into independent practice, and so now that healthcare is
changing, it doesn’t annoy us,” says Ho.
HealthLeaders n March 2015 17
>FOCUS. Robert Brenner, MD, is a 63-year-old
gastroenterologist who gave up his independent
practice in San Diego to become an employed
physician in Texas at ProCare Odessa, part of
Medical Center Health System. He says that in
addition to improved compensation, the main
attraction is reduced administrative burdens
and more time for patients.