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money and medicine

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by antidote, Apr 19, 2004.

  1. antidote

    antidote Member
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    Hi everyone,
    this is my first post in the forum, though I've been browsing it for quite some time, and I've really enjoyed my stay :D
    so here's the question,

    I'm a sophomore majoring in physics right now (undergrad) and I'm thinking about switching gears and going into medicine. I keep hearing the statement that "you shouldn't go into medicine becuase of the money, there are many other fields where you can make just as much money"
    not that I'd go in for the money, but I can't help but wonder what these "other fields" are? (and how realistic they are)
    any thoughts?
     
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  3. Trekkie963

    Trekkie963 Senior Member
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    Law, business, engineering, computer science...

    people with these types of education all have the potential to earn the same kind of money made by doctors.
     
  4. FrankMD

    FrankMD Ophthalmologist Wanna Be
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    In addition, the above mentioned fields do not require 4 years of medical school and 3+ years of residency training working 80+ hrs a week... ;)
     
  5. eklope2000

    eklope2000 Member
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    Engineering and computer science, on average, would probably be significantly lower salaries than medicine (though I'm sure exceptions exist.)

    Whether one can make a physician's salary in business or law is quite subject to the economy and in the former case, a lot of luck.

    Personally, I hate the rhetoric people give about there being a lot of more lucrative things to do than medicine (and thus one shouldn't do medicine for the money.) It seems to me that no other profession guarantees such a high salary, and if they do offer the potential to make as much or more money as medicine, it is a lot more risky and less guaranteed.
     
  6. southbelle

    southbelle Senior Member
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    My brother went to law school at Duke and graduated top 15%. took a job as an associate with King and Spaulding(top law firm in atl) a few years ago making a little over 110k. Maybe 125k Im not sure. Since then, he's been working 85-90 hours a week and has tons of pressure. Pressure to stay in the same dept without being transferred to a 'lesser' department. Unfortunately, his chances of making partner(and therefore the really big money) at K&S are pretty small, so in 3-4 years he will probably have to join a smaller boutique firm where he will make good money but never touch the 600-900k you always hear about partners of top law firms making. And he'll still be working horrible hours. He tells me that most law students don't get the associate jobs at top law firms. At top 6 schools most all do, but even some who don't do well at schools like Duke and Northwestern don't have a great associate position lined up. The whole thing doesn't sound very appealing.

    Engineering? Show me job descriptions of salaried engineers making 200k? Usually the salaried positions for engineering stop at around 100k, and even most of those at 100k and slightly above involve managing other engineers. CS and software engineering is the same.

    Business is so vague. What kind of business? The skills needed to get into medical school aren't always the skills needed to succeed in marketing yourself in the business world. Even the skills needed to get into a good mba program are very different from the skills needed to get into medical school.
     
  7. kikkoman

    kikkoman Senior Member
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    Investment banking. The money is crazy - after you finish the first two years after college and do your b-school routine, you will almost always come back to a package of 200k+, and it only goes up from there. It's harder to peg the "salaries" of i-bankers because the bonuses cause them to vary really wildly, but if you are looking for money, there is a lot lot lot more there than in medicine (with significantly less training). Of course, it is demanding, and you can't really succeed without working very hard.

    Also in law if you specialize in tax law or something, you generally start out very high. Of course, you need to be "good," and the salaries for good, specialized lawyers tend to be very high.
     
  8. southbelle

    southbelle Senior Member
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    the associate i-banking positions that pay 200k+ are at places that recruit pretty much only from top 10 business schools(sometimes only top 5 or 6). To get into a wharton or harvard mba program you are going to have to bust it pretty hard for some years post-undergrad. Sometimes working as an analyst which would really suck. So it's not like you can walk into an associate position at age 24-25 after b-school.
     
  9. midlifecrisis

    midlifecrisis Member
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    The lottery pays freakin awesome. Just keep buyin tickets.......
     
  10. kikkoman

    kikkoman Senior Member
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    well, more importantly they recruit from just a handful of undergrad institutions. thats true - without the right degree its pretty much impossible to get in. elitism in its extreme, hoarding the money for all their classmates.
     
  11. WyldeWolf1

    WyldeWolf1 Get your own!
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    What you really have to look at here is the difference between training time, effort, and returns.

    The textbook example is not law, but rather business. Think about your typical MBA program, which typically lasts between 1.5-2 years. Now, do ALL MBA holders make a ton of money? No. However, if you approached MBA admissions and training with the same level of care and effort as a competitive medical student, you'd be at or near the top of your class in a competitive school. This opens up lots of doors for you in the business world, and if you're willing to work with the same drive as you would have as a physician, you'll make plenty of money. You'll also be gaining capital earlier in life, investing it, and start far ahead of physicians.

    But, really, the reason you shouldn't go into med school for the money is that if you do, you probably won't be happy. That's pretty much true of all career paths, but you go through quite a bit to become a physician. You see things that tear at your heart; why do that if your only interest is money?
     
  12. NonTradMed

    NonTradMed Perpetual Student
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    :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup:

    I agree 110%. :)

    What people are not understanding is RETURN ON INVESTMENT.

    Medicine is a great field to be in. It is secure and the rewards are relatively high. But as the above poster stated, if you approached the business or law field WITH THE SAME INTENSITY, chances are pretty good you will find an equally high (or higher) return in investment.

    It is still not as "guaranteed as medicine in ROI, but that is offset by the POTENTIAL to make more.

    I believe the biggest confusion with the debate about financial incentives of medicine is that people look at the average physician and compare him/her to the average person in IT, business, or law. The problem is the 'average Joe' in those fields do not uniformally go through the same hardships as the medical students, therefore each will reap a different ROI.

    Look at it this way, we are each given 'points' in life. The harder we work, the more 'points' we get. In the end, the points will be redeemed in the form of a salary. The more points, the higher the salary.

    Statistically, the AVERAGE law/bschool/engineering will not work as much the average med school simply b/c med students training have a set requirement which all have to undergo in order to practice---hence the average number of points the nonmed student will get is 'less' than the average med student.

    But if a bschool/law school/engineer were to work just as hard toward their degree (and hence earn the same number of 'points' as their med school counterpart)....then chances are very good they will eventually reap the same rewards (as in ten years down the line) as med students.

    This is not to rag on nonmed student (heck, I was an engineering student!)....but to point out the less structured lower entry to barrier certain fields are, the more variations we see in said field....this does not mean that the field is less lucrative, only that it is easier to enter the field...

    I hope I didn't confuse anyone my analogy....I suck at explaining things. :cool:
     
  13. Neuronix

    Neuronix Total nerd
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    I agree with eklope.

    It is undisputed that the top-10 jobs for average pay are all medical. In fact, that extends to most of the top-20. Also, you will have a STABLE job for the rest of your life (barring serious screw-ups), and by going to medical school you open alot of doors for career options.

    Business? Good luck, little/no security, unless you go to a top business school. Law? Not bad if you go to a top law school, as opposed to pretty much any med school will do. Though figure in law you will also make significant sacrafices. Computer science? No way, not anymore, unless you get very lucky. Just like engineering, the jobs are all going overseas and there's too many qualified applicants.

    Of course there are drawbacks. Loans, length/difficulty of training, etc... Still, I'm just reporting what I see as the truth. Should you go into medicine just for the money? I fear for your patients and your own mental health with all the crap you gotta go through.
     
  14. Sean2tall

    Sean2tall Pathology Resident
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    Right on! Can't think of anything to add. .
     
  15. freaker

    freaker Senior Member
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    Not really true. Law is all about pedigree. Later, social skills and willingness to do tedious labor will come into play. As for law school, there is a degree of luck and skill, but you're generally set into a path and will have few opportunities to advance if the cards don't fall perfectly.

    I attended Virginia Law before dropping out to attempt to enter med school. Let me assure you that the intensity of one's study sessions didn't always pan out into higher grades. The highest grades in the class--this even at a top 9 law school (and yes, top 9 is significant. So are top 3, top 6, and top 14 in law)--were made by the people who just got it, not by those who studied intensely and who approached the professors with questions. If you're not one of these people who gets it from the very beginning, you'll never be in the top 1/3 of the class, and the richest doors will never open. And grades only matter your first two semesters, anyway, FYI. I guess they matter a bit your second year, but third year? Nah.

    Then, if you go to the right school and manage to finish somewhere above the very bottom of the class (wasn't everyone going to make law review when they started law school?), you're working 70+ hours per week. Or more. And you're doing horrible, mind-numbing labor while partners scream at you. And you have to jump through all the right hoops. You have to be social when the firm wants you to be social. And then you have to bring in clients when that time comes. Most associates burn out before that time comes. Or most are quietly told to leave, even though they were getting the job done. Something just wasn't right.

    If you jump through the right hoops, the monetary possibilities in law are far greater than they are in medicine. But only if you jump through the right hoops.

    Hoop #1? The LSAT. 75% of your admissions decision will be based on this test (don't let anyone tell you otherwise--unless you're eligible for AA). You can make up for years of slacking with one exam. Do well enough, and you're set for life. At least monetarily set.

    (OP, if you are considering law, look into government work. It may take a while to build up to that poinat, but you can eventually make 100K+ with quite a bit of vacation leave, working mostly 40-50 hours per week with federal retirement and benefits.)
     
  16. NonTradMed

    NonTradMed Perpetual Student
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    Well, obviously, individual talents also comes into play. Some people would make horrible engineers but great physicians, so it would be worth their time to go into medicine and not engineering.

    However, I was speaking in general terms, you are citing a SPECIFIC example of "some people who will study all the time and not do well". That is true for anything....some people are just born with a knack for their chosen field.

    What I am saying is, if a person was as studious as a successful med student applying to a law/business school, and was willing to work/study as hard as a medical student for the next 7-10 years (working 10-100 hours ect)....chances are pretty good they will end up making as money as good as a physician. This 'hard work' may include socializing or "performing tedious chores", or making sure all your cards fall down the correct path as you mentioned. Just as as med student studies hard during school and works hard during residency, the business person or law student will have to work hard to make sure they have the perfect "pedigree". It's different, but it's still work.

    All I am saying is that the same "intensity and work ethic" comes into play to be equally successful in either field.

    You are correct that there is more "luck" involved in the business world, but I disagree that your cards have to "fall perfectly". The top top positions in our society might require almost perfect pedigree, but most positions paying in the $150,000 range do not require that type of perfection. It does require ambition, drive, and intelligence....all features most medical students have, and many successful nonmedical students share as well. :D
     
  17. fun8stuff

    fun8stuff *hiding from patients*
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    According to the
    U.S. Department of Labor
    Bureau of Labor Statistics:

    http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos053.htm

    Table 1. Median salaries of lawyers 6 months after graduation, 2001 Type of work Salary
    All graduates
    $60,000
    Private practice
    90,000
    Business/industry
    60,000
    Judicial clerkship and government
    40,300
    Academe
    40,000


    Engineers:
    Overall engineering employment is expected to grow more slowly than the average for all occupations over the 2002-12 period.
    -Median annual earnings of aerospace engineers were $72,750 in 2002.
    -Median annual earnings of agricultural engineers were $50,700 in 2002.
    -Median annual earnings of biomedical engineers were $60,410 in 2002.
    -Median annual earnings of chemical engineers were $72,490 in 2002.
    -Median annual earnings of civil engineers were $60,070 in 2002.
    -Median annual earnings of computer hardware engineers were $72,150 in 2002.
    -Median annual earnings of electrical engineers were $68,180 in 2002.
    -Median annual earnings of environmental engineers were $61,410 in 2002.
    -Median annual earnings of industrial engineers were $62,150 in 2002.
    -Median annual earnings of materials engineers were $62,590 in 2002.
    -Median annual earnings of mechanical engineers were $62,880 in 2002.
    -Median annual earnings of nuclear engineers were $81,350 in 2002.
    -Median annual earnings of petroleum engineers were $83,370 in 2002.
    -Median annual earnings of mining and geological engineers, including mining safety engineers, were $61,770 in 2002.
    Get the picture?

    Investment Banking
    Median annual earnings of financial analysts in investment banking were $57,100 in 2002.

    Computer Science:
    Median annual earnings of computer systems analysts were $62,890 in 2002.

    Physicians
    Table 1. Total compensation of physicians by specialty, 2002
    Anesthesiology
    $306,964
    Surgery, general
    255,438
    Obstetrics/gynecology
    233,061
    Psychiatry
    163,144
    Internal medicine
    155,530
    Pediatrics/adolescent medicine
    152,690
    Family practice (without obstetrics)
    150,267

    Footnotes:
    (1) SOURCE: Medical Group Management Association, Physician Compensation and Production Report, 2003.


    So as can be seen, even the lowest paid doctor on average makes nearly twice that of a lawyer, engineers, computer system analysts, investment bankers, etc. It is well known that top 10 paying jobs have been in medicine.
    The top 10 paying jobs according to the Department of Labor study were:

    Surgeons $137,050

    Obstetricians and gynecologists $133,430

    Anesthesiologists $131,680

    Internists, general $126,940

    Pediatricians, general $116,550

    Psychiatrists $113,570

    Family and general practitioners $110,020

    Dentists $110,820

    Chief Executives $107,670

    Airline pilots, copilots and flight engineers $ 99,400


    So as you can see even the average chief executive makes less than the average doc and how many business majors become chief executive? 1%? 0.5%? How many medical students become physicians? 100% edit: probably more like 96-97% med students become doctors, but that is still a helluva lot better number.
     
  18. Hallm_7

    Hallm_7 Senior Member
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    Plus, who wants to be a lawyer? Check out the surveys indicating public perception of professions. Lawyers are the least liked group of people in the country. Medicine is one of the top 5 most respected.
     
  19. oldtimer

    oldtimer Not a blind man
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    I pretty much agree with what everyone is saying on this thread (this must be a first). If you spend any time in business, law, engineering, technology, etc fields, you realize very quickly that Darwinian principles apply. Only the best fit or luckiest for that field will make a lot of money; the rest, ie, majority, will make average money for that field. For physicians, average doctors from average schools still make good money. If you think that you could be one of the best in a different field, don't go into medicine because the sacrifices are just too great.
     
  20. DrWuStar

    DrWuStar YUM
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    i work for a law firm, and i only know two lawyers who like their jobs: the two partners at my firm. the rest are miserable. they work 90 hour weeks, and some of them only make about $55K. way less per hour than i make, as a non-credentialed paralegal. and most of them have student loan burdens of more than $100K. one associate at my firm is married to a lawyer as well, and they live in a studio apartment because they can not afford a one bedroom on their associate salaried with their high loan payments.

    at least i feel sure that once i'm out of residency and making money, my loan payments won't keep me from living a reasonable lifestyle - including a home with more than one room!
     
  21. bruinrab

    bruinrab Senior Member
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    Parhaps that's because our natural selection occurs well before we become MS1s?

    We get weeded out before graduate education, whereas it seems people in business, law, etc get weeded out after they've done their advanced degrees.
     
  22. asdasd12345

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    investment banking is a profession whose demand varies with the trends of the market. obviously late 90's you could get hired easy as a ivy-league grad, because of all the mergers occuring and companys going public. but what do you think happened in 2000? pretty much all companies cut the size of their entry level positions available. out of college you can expect to make 50k salary, 50k bonus if its a good year and youve done your hard work. but they do work you hard, expect 80-hour work weeks, no christmas holiday, no time off at all. staying up till 2 in the morning copying annual reports for your boss. after that 2 years is up your supposed to go to Bschool, where afterwards you can probably get a job as an associate earning 100k salary, 200k with bonus, after that it just keeps going upwards. however the lifestyle is working 80hours a week, being shouted at by bosses. high pressure all the time, hardly any time off.
     
  23. midlifecrisis

    midlifecrisis Member
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    You know it hasn't seemed to occur to any of you that maybe part of the difference in average salaries is that MD's are overpaid? Don't get me wrong, after coming from work that has paid me 20k per year, I'm happy to be entering a profession that can gaurantee me 100k+. But as health costs rise something is gonna give, its not gonna be drug costs (thats too strong of a lobby), but it may be your beloved salaries.
    There's an interesting sense of entitlement going through this thread. Some of you don't quite seem to realize a lot of people work super hard, put a ton into their education formal or informal, and don't make much money...but are pretty satisfied because they are doing what they like. MD's are pretty lucky really....They are expected to work hard, pay some dues, and get paid well.
     
  24. asdasd12345

    asdasd12345 Membership Revoked
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    sometimes i wonder why i want to be an MD, i dont think i am not smart enough, or hardworking enough. i guess the biggest reason is stability of the career, and the boost it will give my ego when i say to myself "i saved that poor suckers life", but isnt that why everyone helps people, because it makes them feel good to make others feel good. i mean if it made you feel bad to help others, what would it make you?
     

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