Today I read an article in the Wall Street Journal about the fact that as of recent years, dentists are making more money, on average, than general practice physicians. This is not just in terms of raw salary but in terms of hours worked per week and stress levels - primary care doctors can work 50 and 60 hours a week while dentists tend not to work more than 40. The difference between the professions, hinted the article, seems to spring from the fact of managed care and regulation in medicine, versus almost none of that in dentistry. People go to dentists even when their insurance fails to cover the elective procedures that they have done, and yet many patients actually select more expensive options than the default or utilitarian choices, even though they're paying wholly out of pocket. Cavities are on the decline since 30 to 50 years ago, so much of dentistry is cosmetic these days - people get it done because they want to, and without the need to haggle with insurance companies, dentists can charge as much as the market will bear. Some medical specialties are still highly paid, but the article gave me the impression that on the whole, nowadays primary care doctors get lots of grief and not even as much to show for it as their dentist colleagues.
I look forward to the day when diseases are on the decline and people start going to doctors mostly for elective enhancements.