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A thank you for the labor of medical professionals


On this Labor Day holiday, don’t forget about the hardworking physicians and nurses who provide quality care each and every day.

Playwright Noel Coward said “Work is more fun than fun.” 

In “The Prophet,” Kahlil Gibran wrote “Work is love made visible.” 

Those of us that are physically and mentally able to work at a job we love are so very lucky. Sometimes, during a very stressful day, it is hard to remember this. But, we should strive to recall the unfortunate circumstances that often befall those unable to work, and we should try to remember the positive contributions we are making to our communities.

In honor of Labor Day, I compiled some facts about doctors and nurses and their work. The work done by these medical care providers is necessary and rewarding. 

In 2017, there were 713,800 working physicians in the United States. The median income for a physician was approximately $212,000, according to Medical Economics’ 

. Cardiologist were on the highest end of pay with an average of $415,000 per year while a family practitioner earned $205,000. Orthopedists and urologists tend to make toward the higher end of the scale while pediatricians and internists are on the lower end. The average number of weekly visits for a family physician is 83, with the median number of weekly hours at 52. There are roughly the same number of women matriculated in medical school now as men. There is still a wage gap. In all ethnic and racial groups, females earn less than males. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), the states with the highest rate of employment for doctors are California and New York. The top two paying states for physicians are New Hampshire with annual mean wage at $275,000 followed by South Dakota at $258,280.

The BLS also stated, that nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners median annual pay in 2017 was $110,930. There were 203,800 jobs available in 2016 with a very favorable job outlook and higher than average projected growth over the next ten years at 31%. Usually, a master’s degree is required. California hirers the most NPs at $126,770 median annual wage. The top three paying states for NPs are California followed by Alaska and Hawaii.

As of 2016, there were 2,955,200 available nursing jobs, with the job outlook quite favorable and expected to grow at 15 percent over the next 10 years. The median pay for registered nurses is $70,000 per year. Nurses employed by the government had the highest median yearly salary at $75,900, followed by hospital nurses who were making $72,070. Nurses in educational settings tend to make less with the median yearly wage at $60,300. California has the highest employment rate of RNs with an annual wage of $102,700 and Texas has the second highest employment rate for nurses with median pay at $72,070. The states with the highest concentration of jobs for nurses were South Dakota followed by West Virginia. The top two paying states for RNs are California and Hawaii.

Healthcare providers are busy people. The Center for Disease Control estimates the percentage of adults who had contact with a healthcare professional in the past year was 84.6 percent and the percentage of children was 92.7 percent. Twenty-three million Americans had a least one overnight stay in a hospital within the past year. There were 125.7 million outpatient hospital visits in the past year. The dedicated physicians, nurse practitioners, and nurses that care for all of these sick people are unsung heroes. How lucky this country is in spite of all of our healthcare woes to have these caring providers available 24/7 to meet our medical needs. A big thank you to all of them. 

Philosopher Thomas Carlyle once said, “He that can work is a born king of something.” And for further inspiration, I leave you with this quote from poet Charles Baudelaire:

“How many years of fatigue and punishment it takes to learn the simple truth that work, that disagreeable thing, is the only way of not suffering in life, or at all events, of suffering less.”


Lori Rousche, MD, is a family medicine physician practicing in Souderton, Pa., where she operates under the Comprehensive Primary Care Plus model.

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