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Return on Investment in Anesthesia Education

Sebel, PS MB, BS, PhD, FFARCSI

doi: 10.1097/00000539-199802001-00045
Abstracts of Posters Presented at the International Anesthesia Research Society; 72nd Clinical and Scientific Congress; Orlando, FL; March 7-11, 1998: Anesthesia/OR Economics
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Department of Anesthesiology, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30335.

Abstract S45

This study was designed to determine the relative return on investment in education for anesthesiologists and anesthetists and to determine how many years after obtaining a Bachelors degree does the cumulative income of an anesthesiologist exceed that of an anesthetist.

Costs of education were obtained surveying 12 anesthesiologists and 18 anesthetists in order to determine tuition fees and costs of living during the educational period. Since each year of graduation was different, the dollar cost of education was brought up to 1996 levels as follows: The educational costs of private and public institutions were obtained from National Center of Educational Statistics. Regression analysis reveal that these data fit a quadratic function with r2 = 0.998. The conversion was achieved by multiplying the cost in 19xx by the cost by the NCS cost in 1996 divided by the solution to the quadratic function for 19xx. In order to truly reflect comparable education cost all tuition and living expenses were assumed to have been borrowed at 8% interest. Loans were assumed to accumulate to graduation (anesthetists) or completion of residency (anesthesiologists). Loans were assumed to have been paid back over 10 years at 8%.

In order to estimate income, for anesthetists, the University salary scale was used incrementing from the bottom of the scale to the top of the scale over 10 years with an extra 20% to allow for shift differentials /overtime. Residency salaries from the Graduate Medical Education office were used and for anesthesiologist salaries, data from the American Association of Medical Colleges (Southern Region) were used. Physicians were assumed to progress from the 20th percentile of Assistant Professor to the 50th percentile of Associate Professor over 10 years. For anesthesiologists and anesthetists, cumulative income minus loan repayments over a 20 year period was calculated and shown in the graph. Year I is one year after completing bachelors degree. Return on investment (in terms of dollars and percentage return) are shown in Table 1. The average investment represents the fully loaded cost of education with loans accumulating to the point of completion of residency or graduation.

Table 1

Table 1

In terms of percentage return on investment, education as an anesthetist has much better return than an anesthesiologist (31% vs 18%). Assuming all educational costs are borrowed, it takes an anesthesiologist who went to private schools 18 years until the cumulative income exceeds that of an anesthetist. (Figure 1)

Figure 1

Figure 1

© 1998 International Anesthesia Research Society