Economics of Psychiatric Financial Remuneration
Dr. Reid Graham
At the CPA Annual Conference during the Members-in-Training Annual General Meeting, there was interest in the economics of psychiatry. This has been an area I have been passionate about as the Members-in-Training Representative on the CPA Economics Committee. It is an area that residents should be active in, given remuneration will be an aspect of their future career.
As psychiatry residents, we put in many years of training before we are eligible to practice. Many of those years we pay to be students and then during residency we get paid a small salary that does not represent our level of education. Residents work 50-100 hours per week with salaries for PGY 1 in the $50,000-60,000 range. If you add on an additional $5000 annually for call stipends, a resident working 60 hours per week makes ~$18 per hour. In other professional jobs, if an employee has both a 3-4-year bachelor degree, and a 4-year professional degree, they will likely start at a higher income than $18 per hour (equal to $37,000 annually if working 40 hours per week). Other professionals also are frequently provided with overtime pay, pensions, paid leaves, large annual bonuses, and/or profit share.
It is important for our profession to advocate together for appropriate compensation. In future writings I aim to provide further details, but in brief, when the Royal Bank of Canada has a separate category for psychiatry residents with half the maximum amount of line of credit room compared to a separate inclusive category for all other residents (including family medicine and every other specialty), the general public needs to be better educated about our value as specialist physicians. We should be educating government and the public as to the amount of time (at least 12 years) of training it takes to become a Canadian psychiatrist and the lack of benefits most physicians have (no pension, no overtime pay, no sick/disability leave, and no government paid maternity leave).
Psychiatrists give up too many years of lost income potential while training and should be compensated appropriately, as should all specialist physicians. The CPA is an important avenue to unite resident and attending psychiatrist voices across the country. I encourage residents to get involved with the CPA and to consider involvement with contract negotiation teams in their province. These important discussions will influence our future work.