Salary Guide To How Much You Can Earn As A Doctor

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Doctors are regarded as important contributors to society, as they help save lives and heal the sick. A doctor’s career is also something many Singapore parents aspire for their children to achieve.

Many know that it is a career that requires good education grades and also grit to complete their internship and other practical work experience before they can become a full fledged doctor. But do doctors earn much? We find out.

How To Become A Doctor In Singapore

You need to complete a medical degree and go for postgraduate training to become a doctor. Generally, an individual has to complete relevant pre-university education which is GCE A-levels, or other equivalent education.

After pre-university education, the individual will have to enrol in a medical school. The most publicised medical schools in Singapore are the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine at Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

Individuals will need to pursue a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) degree, which typically takes around five to six years to complete to be on the path to a certified medical doctor. The curriculum includes both theoretical and practical components, including clinical rotations in hospitals.

The medical graduates then have to complete a one-year internship, also known as housemanship, at a recognised hospital. This is a crucial period for gaining practical experience and exposure to various medical specialities.

Once the internship is completed, individuals will be registered under the Singapore Medical Council (SMC). The doctor to be will need to pass the Pre-Registration Examination for Medical Graduates (PRES) conducted by the SMC.

After passing the exam, individuals will receive full registration with the SMC, allowing them to practice independently as a doctor.

It’s Not Just About Intelligence And Academic Grades

While intelligence is undoubtedly an asset in the medical field, becoming a successful doctor in Singapore or anywhere else often requires a combination of various qualities, skills, and attributes.

Fundamentally, doctors will need to have a strong academic foundation no doubt as medical education is rigorous. A solid understanding of biological and physical sciences is necessary.

They also have to be able to make quick decisions and solve problems. Hence, critical thinking skills are crucial in diagnosing and treating patients. They need to be okay communicators, build trust with patients and be able to explain complex medical information to the man on the street.

A key requirement to be a doctor is to be able to have empathy – the ability to understand and empathise with patients. Compassion helps doctors connect with patients on a human-to-human level and provides better emotional support as well as motivation for doctors to do the work that they do.

Doctors also require a strong sense of ethics and the ability to make morally sound decisions. A remnant of the Hippocratic Oath includes respect for colleagues. The Hippocratic Oath is a pledge that all doctors take when they are first registered to practice medicine.

They also need to have a huge appetite for continuous learning as they need to study a lot and understudy quite a fair bit in the early part of their careers, so they need to be patient and resilient to the long hours and research parts of the role.

How Much Can A Doctor Earn

A doctor’s salary depends on factors such as experience, specialisation and if they work for the public sector or have a private practice.

Junior doctors, or those in their early postgraduate years (or some also known as undergoing housemanship) may earn a basic monthly salary of S$3,750 to S$6,500. The amount depends on the hospital or healthcare institution. As a doctor gains experience, salaries will rise gradually.

According to jobs platform Indeed, house officers and MOs employed by MOH Holdings (the holding company of Singapore’s public healthcare clusters) take home average monthly salaries of around S$5,000 to S$6000.

Some doctors choose to undergo postgraduate training, also known as residency, to specialise in a specific medical field. This training typically takes several years, depending on the chosen speciality. Upon completion of postgraduate training, doctors may undergo specialist accreditation processes to become recognised specialists in their chosen field.

For doctors who are in specialised fields or are in consultant work, they can earn as much as S$10,000 to S$25,000 for senior doctors. These doctors will have to complete additional training or studies in a specific medical field.

The figures are still a benchmark and are subject to change, depending on market forces and economic conditions. They are also subject to individual salary negotiations and compensation packages and serve as a gauge.

What Other Factors Determine The Salary Of A Doctor

There are also other factors that determine the income of a doctor. For instance, doctors working in public hospitals in Singapore are typically employed by the government. The salary structure for public-sector doctors is often standardised and may include various benefits. While the salary may be competitive, it is generally more predictable and less variable than that of private practice.

Private sector doctors – including doctors who open their own clinics or work in private hospitals – are known to be able to earn more than doctors in the public sector. That’s because their income is tied to the volume and types of services provided. A doctor’s reputation can also influence the salary.

Doctors with medical specialisation can have higher earning potential – especially for work that may be more in demand in the private sector. One such specialisation is plastic surgery, as there is a demand for cosmetic procedures from many in today’s day and age. There are also heart and brain surgeons who are highly paid for their skills and expertise.

Of course, the experience of the doctor matters as mentioned earlier as it will directly contribute to the earnings. The location of a doctor’s practice can also play a role. Doctors working or running practices in prime or central areas may have higher overhead costs but also potentially attract a wealthier patient population.

Do Doctors Get Bonuses

In Singapore, doctors working in both the public and private sectors may be eligible for bonuses, but the specifics can vary depending on the employer, the terms of employment, as well as other factors.

Here are some considerations:

Public Sector (Public Hospitals, Institutions, or Government Clinics):

  • 13th Month Bonus: In some cases, public-sector employees, including doctors, may receive a 13th-month bonus, also known as the Annual Wage Supplement (AWS). This is an additional month’s salary paid annually.
  • Performance Bonuses: Public-sector institutions may also offer performance bonuses based on individual or departmental performance metrics.
  • Variable Component: Some components of a doctor’s salary in the public sector may be variable, depending on factors such as performance and productivity.

Private Sector (Private Hospitals, Clinics, or Private Practice):

  • Profit-Sharing or Revenue Sharing: Doctors in private practice or private hospitals may have arrangements for profit-sharing or revenue-sharing based on the financial success of the practice.
  • Year-End Bonuses: Private employers, including hospitals and clinics, may offer year-end bonuses or performance-based bonuses to their employees.
  • Productivity Incentives: Some private practices may provide productivity incentives, linking bonuses to the volume and types of services provided.
  • Negotiated Bonuses: The bonus structure in private practice can vary, and it may be subject to negotiation between the doctor and the employer.

Although private practitioners may have the potential for higher earnings, they also face additional challenges, such as managing a private practice, dealing with administrative tasks, and building a patient base. Some doctors may stick to the public sector even though the earnings are more stable as they prefer to opt out of all these additional roles and focus on their craft.

Ultimately, the decision between working in the public or private sector will depend on various factors, including personal preferences, career goals, and lifestyle considerations. Some doctors may choose to work in both sectors, balancing time between public and private practice depending on their current life needs.

Read Also: Salary Guide To How Much You Can Earn As A Nurse In Public Healthcare

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