Hitting a Nerve

Doctors’ pay involves a lot of unseen work


“Doctors make a lot of money.” We hear that a lot, always from people who aren’t part of the profession.

Last month, I had to do my tax forms. Not my annual forms, but the quarterly withholding ones for the IRS, and for the state, along with the Arizona Department of Economic Security forms.

My bank prints out the forms for me to sign, but being compulsive, I want to run the numbers myself. So I sit down, tally things up on paper, make sure the numbers all match, then send the forms in. Sometimes, I discover mistakes here or there, so have to pick through the previous quarter’s payroll to find out where I went wrong and how to correct it.

The whole thing takes me about 2 hours every 3 months. I suppose I could hire an accountant or office manager to deal with that stuff, but in solo practice, you do everything you can to keep the overhead low. So I do it myself.

Eight hours a year doesn’t sound too bad, but it got me thinking about all the other ways that work creeps into my home time.

I’m usually at the office around 5:00 a.m., when I start with reviewing charts, doing paperwork, and catching up on dictations until patients start at 8:00 a.m. From then on, they’re a steady stream until 4:00 p.m., when we close up and head home.

I get home and then have 1-2 hours of time paying bills, sorting mail, and catching up on phone calls and other unresolved issues.

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