Neurosurgeons are the high end of the salary spectrum and comprise a very small proportion of physicians. The problem is not that there will be fewer physicians, but that the supply of physicians will become heavily skewed towards specialties and away from primary care as the financial aspect becomes a bigger factor in how med school grads decide on their careers. When confronted with a $200,000+ educational debt, with reduced compensation in primary care (physician salaries, when adjusted for inflation have gradually declined over the last 20 years), they are going to opt for the higher paying specialities as a matter of necessity. Not a good a trend when the whole point of health care reform is to provide more access to care. Waiting times for primary care docs is becoming major issue. In my opinion, within the next 15-20 years, the concept of a primary care physician will cease to exist. Instead, primary care will be handled by mid-level providers like physician assistants and nurse practitioners. Sure they can handle the basic stuff but they lack the training and experience to discern whether your symptoms are benign or indicative of something more serious.
It's to my understanding that NP programs will be extending to a PhD level in a few years, with universities already going towards that route, eliminating the masters level altogether. The idea behind it is just that though, to make it the premier mid-level practioner that can take care of primary care clinical work that would be to an equal consensus of a Physcian's diagnosis/prognosis.
PA's will remain the same but there's a real possibility of their role being "second string" to a NP despite the clinical education differences. I guess we'll see soon enough eh?
It'll be interesting to see how the healthcare industry will evolve from this, that's certain. Healthcare is in a serious need for...well, shit, everybody. I just got out of college and as a licensed nursing home administrator, I bring in a little over $67K. Paying off my $9000 in student loans is going to be pretty easy, well, hopefully.
The type of degree matters more than the level honestly. A Bachelors in Nursing, Public Health, Business Admin, etc are going to earn a solid salary. If you get a bachelors in virtually any of the liberal arts, its going to be harder to get a job. This is applicable to higher level education too.
Not to say liberal arts is bad, far from it honestly. I'm a double major with Public Health and Political Science, the two really helped me get a serious grasp on how healthcare and government work together. I would recommend anyone who wants to go for a liberal arts major to pair it with something tangible. It goes a long way.
And yes, despite popular belief, I graduated on time. If you matriculate properly, you end up just fine.