Medical Students / JMOsNews / Opinion

MJAInsight: Dentists are top earners

This MJA Insight article draws attention and comments on an ABS article released this week regarding the earnings of dentists. It’s accessible under the box below:

[box=Dentists are top earners by Sophie McNamara | MJA Insight]DENTISTS earn more than medical specialists and GPs but see fewer patients and have higher costs, according to an Australian Bureau of Statistics survey of medical businesses released last week. (1)

Dental businesses generated a total income of $6.7 billion in the 2009–10 financial year. This equated to an average of $347 000 of fee-for-service income per practitioner. Dentists had an average of 52 patient contacts a week.

Medical specialists saw 78 patients a week, earning $271 200 of fee-for-service income. For GPs, the average fee-for-service income per practitioner was $181 600 for 124 patient contacts a week.

The survey was based on a sample of 4333 private businesses and organisations, which provided data sourced primarily from financial statements, and on tax data supplied by the Australian Taxation Office. The ABS used the data to estimate the financial performance and workforce characteristics of the businesses for 2009–10.

The survey showed dentists had a lower operating profit margin (24.7%) compared with specialist medical practitioners (37.3%).

Medical specialist businesses had higher profit margins than any other health businesses in the report, including general practices, pathology, optometry and physiotherapy. Small medical specialist practices (fewer than three practitioners) had the highest profit margins (45.1%).

Specialist practices also seemed to have substantially increased their profit margin since a 2001–02 ABS report on private medical practices, when it stood at 28.1%. (2)

The Australian Dental Association said the ABS report highlighted the financial impact of regulatory requirements on dentists.

“Dentists provide their care in a specialised setting, likened to that of a mini-hospital, where infection control and other regulatory requirements cause higher overheads for a practice”, association president Dr Shane Fryer said.

The ABS report found that overall, health care businesses were lucrative and busy.

Health businesses generated $43 billion income in 2009–10, but had expenses totalling $32 billion. Each week, health care professionals made six million patient contacts, three-quarters of which were in general practice.

The report found that medicine remains male dominated, but the gender balance has improved since a 2002 ABS survey of private medical practitioners. (3)

Although the ABS cautioned that methodologies have changed since the 2001–02 surveys, they do show that the proportion of female GPs has increased from 33% in 2001–02 to 36% in the current survey.

Among medical specialists, the proportion of women increased from 14% to 22%. In 2009–10, only 156 of Australia’s 1893 surgeons were women (8%). However, the report cautions that this statistic has a large relative standard error.

Allied health workers within specialist practices were more likely to be women (76%), and younger, with 52% aged under 46 years. Only 31% of medical specialists were aged under 46 years.

The report also highlighted the heavy administrative load involved in running a health care business. For instance, of the 107 213 people engaged in general practice businesses, only 57.5% provided actual patient care (including doctors and allied health workers). The proportions were similar for medical specialists.

Other findings of the report included that many health professionals seem to be enjoying flexible working arrangements. Only 55% of employee GPs and 54% of employee specialists were employed on a permanent full-time basis.

– Sophie McNamara

1. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Health care services, 2009–102. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Private medical practices, Australia, 2001–023. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Private medical practitioners, Australia, 2002

Posted 11 July 2011[/box]

As well as discussing dentist’s earnings it also has some interesting statistics on health professionals in general.

<blockquote></blockquote><br />
inb4 everyone wants to be a dentist :unsure:
    <blockquote>inb4 everyone wants to be a dentist :unsure:</blockquote><br />
    <br />
    Fortunately, cash isn't the most important factor in choosing a career for many!
      <blockquote>Fortunately, cash isn't the most important factor in choosing a career for many!</blockquote><br />
      +1. If you're passionate about something, the money will come anyway.
      *Looking for two more individuals interested in starting up a specialist clinic in 2020* <br />
      <br />
      PM me if interested :p
        You <span style="font-style:italic;">know</span> you're going to get mail now, yeah? :lol:
          I wouldn't expect anything else from my fellow ambitious highschoolers. :p
          [offtopic]<blockquote>I wouldn't expect anything else from my fellow ambitious highschoolers. :p</blockquote><br />
          <br />
          Hot tip: get business cards printed up now, to "provide incentive". Yes, I know someone who did that. [/offtopic]
          <blockquote>[offtopic]<br />
          <br />
          Hot tip: get business cards printed up now, to "provide incentive". Yes, I know someone who did that. [/offtopic]</blockquote><br />
          <br />
          [offtopic]Business cards? I already have a collage of my future life stuck onto the ceiling of my bed room complete with the hood ornament from the car I want, a patch of sail from my future yacht and a full Armani suit (currently second hand but will be redesigned in silk and augmented with albino rhino leather boots + akubra). :p[/offtopic]<br />
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          [offtopic]<blockquote> Business cards? I already have a collage of my future life stuck onto the ceiling of my bed room complete with the hood ornament from the car I want, a patch of sail from my future yacht and a full Armani suit (currently second hand but will be redesigned in silk and augmented with albino rhino leather boots + akubra). :p</blockquote><br />
          <br />
          Frighteningly, I'm not sure whether you're joking or not (that sounds like one pimping suit!). :lol: Perhaps a set of business cards would complete the picture? [/offtopic]
          OK, so I just went through the report and I have made a few observations.<br />
          <br />
          1) This report is meant to be documenting the profitability and operations of health care centres in Australia. IT IS NOT MEANT TO BE A REPORT ON THE SALARY OF HEALTH CARE PROEFESSIONALS.<br />
          <br />
          2) The quoted figure of average service income pasted above is BEFORE COSTS. This does not take into account the operating margin. If we do take that into account, <br />
          <br />
          A general practice centre (NOT A GENERAL PRACTICTIONER) which consists of GPs, physios psychos has an Average fee for service of $181,600 and a profit margin of 33.9%<br />
          <br />
          A specialist medical business (NOT A SPECIALIST) has an Average fee for service of $271,200 and a profit margin of 37.3%<br />
          <br />
          A dental business (NOT A DENTIST) has an Average fee for service of $347,000 and <span style="font-weight:bold;">but happens to have the lowest profit margin of a profit margin of 24.7%</span><br />
          <br />
          3) The reason why the author included the above dollar amount was to illustrate how much each medical professional brings in for the business, not how much they bring home.<br />
          <br />
          4) The report treats the salary of the medical professionals as an expense, NOT AS AN INCOME for the business. This suggests the Profit (Income &#8211; Expense) goes to the business owners, not split evenly between the employees as people are assuming.<br />
          <br />
          5) Just a final note, while this does give a very VAGUE INDICATION of what a person may expect to make in relation to other jobs. It is very unreliable as the purpose is not a salary survey as some people are treating it.
          When I'm rich and famous, I'm going to buy fish and cook it, regularly.
          <blockquote>When I'm rich and famous, I'm going to buy fish and cook it, regularly.</blockquote><br />
          <br />
          Why buy a fish when you can buy an ocean? :)
          A lot of sarcasm noted in previous posts... but I find that if anyone enters into a profession, particulary a health profession for money. It is not long before patient care drops......
          +1 to the past two posts - you will be comfortable, who cares about the fine details of earning at such an early stage?
          <blockquote>A lot of sarcasm noted in previous posts... but I find that if anyone enters into a profession, particulary a health profession for money. It is not long before patient care drops......</blockquote><br />
          <br />
          personally, wanting to get an idea on what you will be paid does not equal to "enters into a profession, particulary a health profession for money".
          <blockquote>personally, wanting to get an idea on what you will be paid does not equal to "enters into a profession, particulary a health profession for money".</blockquote><br />
          But one would've thought that ">100k" would be enough of an idea?
          <blockquote>But one would've thought that ">100k" would be enough of an idea?</blockquote><br />
          <br />
          Exactly.
          Yes it does ... If it was less than 50k would you do it?
          <blockquote>Yes it does ... If it was less than 50k would you do it?</blockquote><br />
          <br />
          Dentistry? Yes.
          <blockquote>Yes it does ... If it was less than 50k would you do it?</blockquote><br />
          <br />
          You're talking about salary per week, right?
          <blockquote>You're talking about salary per week, right?</blockquote><br />
          <br />
          hahaha +1
          Yes. Salary per week.
          <blockquote>Yes. Salary per week.</blockquote><br />
          In that case, it depends. If those models won't get out of bed for less than 10k/day, I dunno, 50k/week is a bit stingy.<br />
          Honestly, don't understand why people aren't prepared to pay for these meagre fees, only 3k for a 10min check up. It's disgusting. And dentists are so good with their hands.......
          Lol....
          <blockquote>Why buy a fish when you can buy an ocean? :)</blockquote><br />
          <br />
          Does said ocean come with a fish monger?
          <blockquote>Does said ocean come with a fish monger?</blockquote><br />
          <br />
          I'd like to think it comes with a little tropical island and one of those exotic ports :)
          <blockquote>OK, so I just went through the report and I have made a few observations.<br />
          <br />
          1) This report is meant to be documenting the profitability and operations of health care centres in Australia. IT IS NOT MEANT TO BE A REPORT ON THE SALARY OF HEALTH CARE PROEFESSIONALS.<br />
          <br />
          2) The quoted figure of average service income pasted above is BEFORE COSTS. This does not take into account the operating margin. If we do take that into account, <br />
          <br />
          A general practice centre (NOT A GENERAL PRACTICTIONER) which consists of GPs, physios psychos has an Average fee for service of $181,600 and a profit margin of 33.9%<br />
          <br />
          A specialist medical business (NOT A SPECIALIST) has an Average fee for service of $271,200 and a profit margin of 37.3%<br />
          <br />
          A dental business (NOT A DENTIST) has an Average fee for service of $347,000 and <span style="font-weight:bold;">but happens to have the lowest profit margin of a profit margin of 24.7%</span><br />
          <br />
          3) The reason why the author included the above dollar amount was to illustrate how much each medical professional brings in for the business, not how much they bring home.<br />
          <br />
          4) The report treats the salary of the medical professionals as an expense, NOT AS AN INCOME for the business. This suggests the Profit (Income – Expense) goes to the business owners, not split evenly between the employees as people are assuming.<br />
          <br />
          5) Just a final note, while this does give a very VAGUE INDICATION of what a person may expect to make in relation to other jobs. It is very unreliable as the purpose is not a salary survey as some people are treating it.</blockquote><br />
          <br />
          "Dental businesses generated a <span style="text-decoration:underline;"><span style="font-weight:bold;">total income</span></span>of $6.7 billion in the 2009–10 financial year. This equated to an average of $347 000 of fee-for-service <span style="text-decoration:underline;"><span style="font-weight:bold;">income</span></span>per practitioner" Firstly, the figure was referring to <span style="text-decoration:underline;"><span style="font-weight:bold;">income</span></span>not <span style="text-decoration:underline;"><span style="font-weight:bold;">revenue</span></span>so I guess it could very well be used as an indication for the average salary in dentistry. Secondly, assuming the author was indeed referring to <span style="text-decoration:underline;"><span style="font-weight:bold;">revenue</span></span>, based on the figures provided in the article, the average spending per patient per visit is ~$130 and that seems way lower than what I would expect.
          Who cares???? you will earn a comfortable salary get over it....
          <blockquote>"Dental businesses generated a <span style="text-decoration:underline;"><span style="font-weight:bold;">total income</span></span>of $6.7 billion in the 2009&#8211;10 financial year. This equated to an average of $347 000 of fee-for-service <span style="text-decoration:underline;"><span style="font-weight:bold;">income</span></span>per practitioner"</blockquote><br />
          I have a feeling the "income" could refer to "income for the business", but that's just me.<br />
          <br />
          Anyways, I'm slightly uncomfortable about how serious this discussion is... I would've thought that earning "enough to put good food on a good table in a good house I own" would've sufficed?
C