Physicians saw their incomes fall in 2020 amid the spread of COVID-19, as hospital visits declined thanks to people’s higher compliance to personal hygiene practices, such as washing their hands and wearing masks.
On Thursday, the Ministry of Health and Welfare revealed the estimates relating to the status of health workforce, which took a survey of 2.01 million healthcare providers nationwide in 20 healthcare occupations, including doctors, oriental medicine doctors, nurses, and pharmacists. The average annual salary of doctors in 2020 was 231 million won, a decrease of 5 million won from 236 million won in 2019. According to the survey, the average income of physicians was 138 million won in 2010, which took the first downturn in 2020.
“People’s use of medical services reduced during the COVID-19 pandemic, and especially, visits to pediatrics and ear-nose-and-throat clinics have declined,” said Shin Yeong-seok, a senior researcher at the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs.
Among 20 health occupations, doctors’ wage level was the highest, followed by dentist (195 million won), oriental medical doctor (190 million won), pharmacists (84 million won), oriental pharmacists (49 million won), and nurses (47 million won).
“Comparing to the OECD averages, wage differences in health occupations in Korea are larger. In major OECD countries, doctors’ wages are two or three times bigger than those of nurses, but in Korea, the difference is as big as five times.”