Apart from being noble in the public’s eye, the medical profession also comes with a lot of perks that are deemed reasonable in accordance to the weight of responsibilities that come with it. Medical doctors are some of the highest paid professionals in the world, and undeniably, that does make the profession even more attractive, though not necessarily a primary incentive.
On that note, let’s take a closer look at how Philippine doctor salaries fare against doctors from other Southeast Asian countries:
Philippines’ residents in public hospitals can get as much as PHP 20,000-25,000 (USD 402 - 503) per month, plus bonuses that are given out to all government employees.
There has been an internal debate over the misdistribution of doctors in the country. Doctors who choose to practice in the province have a good thriving practice and make better money. They charge considerably less than in major cities, but they have more patients due to the scarcity of doctors in the region.
According to the Singapore Doctors’ Directory, A Senior Consultant in a Singapore hospital may earn up to an annual salary of SGD 300,000 (USD 215,517); a Consultant may earn around SGD 200,000 (USD 143,678); a Registrar earns around SGD 120,000 (USD 86,206); and a Medical Officer earns around SGD 80,000 (USD 57,471).
The figures above are the income ceilings for doctors who shift from clinical work to a research role. The corresponding grade specialist in a clinical environment could still earn more. This is especially true for surgeons who perform a high number of procedures and surgeries at their centres. The income of private practice doctors varies across a broader range, and as such more difficult to estimate, depending on their business structures etc.
The starting salary for a House Officer in Malaysia is RM 2,600 (USD 593), with other allowances that amount to almost RM 1,500 (USD 342). Apart from this, House Officers on-call also receive an additional allowance of RM 600 (USD 137). However, the take-home salary is around RM 3,900 (USD 890) after an 11% deduction for EPF and tax.
Regardless of their performance, as long as no disciplinary actions have been taken against the doctors, promotion to a higher grade will be granted in accordance to the years of service. After completing two years of housemanship, doctors’ grade will be automatically raised from UD41 to UD 44, which comes together with an additional RM 1,000 (USD 228) in the pocket. Another 3 years of service in UD 44, and doctors will be promoted to UD48, which brings in another extra RM 1,000 (USD 228). Following another 4 years and 3 years of service, doctors will then be promoted up to UD52 and UD54 respectively.
On the plus side, government servants are entitled to extra privileges: free medical service for parents, spouse or children; pension after 30 years of service; 60% of final salary and 25 days of annual leave, just to name a few. Under SBPA, the starting salary for U54 (U1 - 6) is RM 7,110 (USD 1,623) with multiple allowances which makes a total of RM 9,860 (USD 2,251) before EPF and tax deduction. A specialist will get the specialist allowance of RM 2,800 (USD 639). A Medical Officer with 12 years of service will take home around RM 8,200 (USD 1,872) per month.
Although government doctors’ salaries have improved tremendously over the past 15 years, the rising costs of living continue to be a thorn most of the time.
It is common for a General Practitioner in Yogyakarta to be paid Rp 15,000 per hour in the clinic (USD 1.13). Hospitals pay slightly more – around Rp 20,000 (USD 1.51) per hour. The average monthly salary is around Rp 3,000,000 (USD 225.97), with their shifts lasting between 7-10 hours. Most doctors need to work straight for few days in order to earn more. Although there are other places that pay more, they are relatively rare, according to Dr. Afkar Aulia, a GP from Yogyakarta.
Thailand’s public hospital staff earn roughly THB 20,000 – 30,000 (USD 582 – 873) per month. Extra allowances are given depending on experience and expertise. As for private hospitals, the monthly pay pocket could be anywhere between THB 60,000-160,000 (USD 1,746 – 4,656), again depending on the hours, experience, skills and most importantly, seniority. Some private clinic practitioners could earn between THB 2-3 million (USD 58,207 – 87,310) per annum.
Being a doctor anywhere in the world is a good economic investment. Medicine is ever-changing and thus, specializations and sub-specializations often come with extra financial perks. It takes years of hard work to build a practice, but when doctors manage to do so, it is very rewarding both professionally and financially.
Efforts taken to improve doctor salary
These comparisons on salary grades between Southeast Asian countries put into perspective why many Filipino physicians pursue job opportunities overseas. Salary is indeed one of the key motivators for these doctors to stay in the country.
As such, Philippine legislators put forth various steps to aid the plight of local physicians.
Just last February, the Senate Committee on Civil Service and Government Reorganization has consolidated similar measures and submitted a proposal to double the salaries of public physicians in the Philippines.
Filed by Senators Antonio Trillanes IV, Loren Legarda, Risa Hontiveros, and Francis Pangilinan, the consolidated Senate Bill 1268 aims to raise the Salary Grade (SG) of public doctors from SG 16 to SG 24 or Php28,417 to Php56,610. MIMS
Doctor shortage in the Philippines: An analysis
Looking into the costs and rewards of becoming a doctor
1 USD = 49.64 PHP
1 USD = 1.39 SGD
1 USD = 4.38 MYR
1 USD = 13,276 IDR
1 USD = 34.36 THB