Docs: It's not about the money

Aesthetic doctor Richard Teo, who died of cancer last month at the age of 40, said there were doctors like him lured by fast money in the profitable field of aesthetic medicine.

In a video that went viral online after his death, Dr Teo lamented that he and some doctors did not treat patients as people who needed help.

"Patients were just a source of income, and I tried to squeeze every single cent out of these patients," admitted the doctor, who had a Ferrari and a bungalow and lived the high life mingling with the rich and famous.

But going by what doctors told My Paper yesterday, the profession is not all about making big bucks.

Plastic surgeon Colin Tham, 43, said that he does not believe in being unprofessional and unethical in his line of work, because he wants to be able to sleep well at night.

He said: "The money is not worth it. I would rather die poor than compromise my values.

But it's a personal choice...and everybody has a different set of values."

My Paper understands that it is possible for some aesthetic doctors to earn $100,000 a month, while general practitioners (GP) earn anything between a few thousand dollars and $10,000 each month.

Still, GP Vivien Ang, 41, prefers her traditional line of work - treating patients' ailments - and does not practise aesthetics.

Agreeing with Dr Teo's message that doctors should focus on helping patients and not lose their moral compass, Dr Ang said: "It's something we have to remind ourselves constantly."

Another GP, Dr Clarence Yeo, 40, who does not practise aesthetic medicine, said there is a trend towards it partly because of demand from patients who want to look better.

But he is comfortable being a GP and said there is more to health care than just prescribing medication to patients. "Understanding them, their conditions and building rapport with them are just as important," he said.

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