Letters: Doctors, Sanford

Just how much can doctors earn before you stop feeling sorry for them? And Michael Jackson isn't the only story listeners are sick of this week.

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Now your letters. Yesterday I spoke to two young doctors fresh off their residencies. One will be a primary care physician, the other a specialist in pulmonary critical care. In that interview, we discussed the big gap between the average salary of a family doctor, around $170,000, and that of a cardiologist, just under $420,000. That gap is one reason why so many young doctors turn away from primary care.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Philip Cohen(ph) of Greensburg, North Carolina, heard that and wondered exactly what the problem was. He wrote: Now I know doctors like to mention how much time they spent in medical school, how much in loans they had to take to fund their education and how hard they worked and how little they were paid during their residencies, as contributing factors to explain their high earnings. But I can't be sympathetic even to the lower salary. Face it. People go to medical school to make a nice living.

When they complain publicly about their financial troubles, all I can think to myself is, man, I should only have financial troubles like that. And when I hear about low-end salaries in the field of medicine being on average just under $200,000, I have to wonder how much of the high cost of medical care is due to those salaries.

BLOCK: Yesterday, we aired a story that featured two African-American pastors, one for and one against gay marriage. Tim Bryant(ph) of West Hollywood California thinks that piece took the wrong angle. Why are my basic human rights subjugated by these people's fallacious religious beliefs? Also, when do gay rights get to the point where NPR doesn't feel the need to always include the opposing view? I'm waiting to hear your balanced stories on Holocaust denial and segregation.

SIEGEL: Earlier this week we heard, loud and clear, some of your objections to the amount of coverage we devoted to the death of Michael Jackson. And some of you are still writing about that.

BLOCK: But not to be ignored are those of you who are tired of our coverage of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. Chuck Marshall(ph) of Houston writes: The second time I heard the story mentioned on NPR, I switched to a different radio station. I do not think a politician's extramarital affair is newsworthy. Listening to commentators and reporters talk about it is like listening to tabloid trash. And I am very disappointed that NPR has spent airtime reporting the story. Can't NPR reporters find more important events going on in the world?

SIEGEL: Well, if there is something you are tired of hearing or something you think you should be hearing more of on our program, let us know. Just write to us by going to npr.org and clicking on Contact Us.

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