Lately, I have a number emails and questions regarding the salary or the earning potential of plastic surgeons. Some have also explained to me that money is their key motivation to become a plastic surgeon. Those of you considering a career in plastic surgery who are focused on money should look elsewhere for a profession. I say this not because money cannot be made as a plastic surgeon, but because money should not be your motivator for anything, let alone for a long, arduous education and training program path as plastic and reconstructive surgery.
If money is your object, there are many other ways to start earning money with much less education and training. Four years of college, 4 years of medical school, 6-8 years of surgical residency training, possible fellowship training = 14 – 17 + years before you start earning anything of substance. This means that you are about 30-33 years old. That’s 10 years of serious earning potential gone down the drain. During those 10 years as a resident, you will be earning barely enough to scrape by and likely will be accumulating more debt. If money is your key motivator, you will be easily disillusioned.
The difficult paths in life are filled with obstacles that make money the weakest motivator. If you embark on a career in plastic and reconstructive surgery, you have to love what you do, have passion, and high ideals. Money will come with hard work, creating quality, and improving people’s lives. These values will always be rewarded and people will seek your expertise for many years to come — and that, is something that money cannot buy.