Would you still want to be a doctor if compensation was different?

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by Fritz, May 5, 2004.

  1. Fritz

    Fritz Senior Member
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    Reading through these boards about lifestyle/compensation for a doctor I thought of something. If there were no student loans ( medical school would be free) and if you did not have to pay malpractice insurance once you became a doctor, and everything else remained the same, school work, residency training, etc, but you only made 50 K a year, would you still do it? I wanted to start one of those poll things but I don't know how.
    I am interested in your opinions, this is an anonymous forum so please don't be shy.

    Thanks,

    Fritz.
     
  2. docmemi

    docmemi 1K Member
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    i would def still go to med school. then i would prolly do just general practice so that i would have time to do something on the side and make money...like real estate.
     
  3. Fermi

    Fermi Senior Member
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    I would honestly think twice. If med school were free it would make it easier, but if nothing else changed in the training and career structure, it would hardly be worth it to make $50K for the rest of your life. There are countless other jobs that will pay $50K soon after starting and with far less training and far fewer hours. Not to mention that many of these jobs in the corporate world would have greater earning potential due to bonuses, promotions, stock options, pension plans, etc., things that doctors don't generally get.

    And you have to factor in that although med school is "free," you're still giving up four income-producing years, and are still borrowing living expenses. SO let's conservatively say you would have made $40K out of college and borrow $10K/year for living. At the end of 4 years, you're at least $200,000 behind your college classmates even with free med school.

    I actually did this calculation for myself. I worked for a few years before med school, and based on the missed income (not even including missed pension and 401(k) contributions) by the time I get out of residency/fellowship I will be (conservatively) well over a half million dollars behind where I would have been had I not gone to med school. You really have to look at it as the biggest investment of your life, time and money inclusive.
     
  4. Fermi

    Fermi Senior Member
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    Let me add to my previous post. What I was getting at in the first part is that you would have to change (i.e. shorten) the whole process of medical education, from college-med school-residency, much like some systems in Europe and other places worldwide.

    If the government assumes control of the health care system and drastically reduces physician reimbursement, they have to concomitantly change medical training, both in subsidy and duration. I'm afraid this will happen over the next decade, but we'll still have all these medical grads facing $200,000 loans on half the salary that they expected to pay them back. Of course, no one else will care because they think all doctors are so rich they can just pay off their loans a year after getting out of med school.
     
  5. Akuffo

    Akuffo An Old Folk
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    Very interesting discussion. About medicine... we all talk about the love for humanity and all the blah blah blah . The truth is , most are in it partially for the money and the social priviledges it brings. But that is ok. We all want to succeed in life.
    I am paying practically nothing for my education in Ghana. The government has 65 scholarship slots in its premier med school.
    But then again greedy as we are, for so many years the doctors who have been trained by the school leave the country for so called greener pastures outside Ghana. Most end up in US - after passing ur USMLE. So you see we are all in it for the JUICE, and that is very unfortunate.
     
  6. SaltySqueegee

    SaltySqueegee El Rey de Salsa
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    $50K from where I come from, is what a starting administrative assistant makes. In other words, it is barely enough to cover apartment living. Now, if I was making $50K a year and lived in the Mid West in a low cost of living location, that would be a different story.
     
  7. Jasminegab

    Jasminegab psych student
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    There would be no doubt in my mind that I would still have a calling for medicine. I know this because I was not one of those people who always knew that I wanted to be a physician. I didn't get the calling until I went to work as a medical assistant and worked with physician's and was always being asked of my opinion on illness and wellness.

    For me, it was not about the money or the opportunities. It was not about the prestige or glamore. It is a true calling for me. I only have the desire to work in area's where being a doctor is needed. Although I do desire to have a nice house in the sub's. I still do see myself working in an area where people are in need of medical care but are often forgotten about due to lack of insurance or not enough insurance. I still have the desire to travel to some of the refugee camps in Africa and other countries. I see myself having a medical office or working in a medical office in some of the poorest area's.

    You may think I'm crazy, but this is where my calling is coming from. I've worked in some of the poorest neighborhoods and experienced first hand how physician's and nurses are treated. Not everyday is a good day. However, there are those times when most really apprieciates what you do. They understand that your not one of those doctors who will turn them away due to lack of money or lack of insurance. In the end, you may not be paid well as some of the other doctors, but your pay is in blessing from above.

    My medical school is an international medical school, so, when I graduate, I'll have spent $34,000 for the 4yrs plus my undergraduate loans which put's me in total of $90,000. If I only make $50,000 a year. I can survive off that and be doing something that I know when I wake up in the morning I'll love doing.

    Study well.....
     
  8. mudbug

    mudbug Senior Member
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    Where on earth is that?? I live in NYC and the administrative assistants here certainly don't start at 50K--more like half that. You're from somewhere with a higher cost of living than NY?
     

  9. :thumbup: word...
     
  10. SaltySqueegee

    SaltySqueegee El Rey de Salsa
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    San Francisco Bay Area can be quite expensive at times. Not currently during a down cycle, but some starting jobs in the area were going for that not but 4years ago.
     
  11. southerndoc

    southerndoc life is good
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    I think 75k/yr would be my cutoff.
     
  12. mudbug

    mudbug Senior Member
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    Ah, I see. 4 years ago was the height of the dot-com boon, though, which of course affected San Francisco disproportionately. It was a brief fluke more than anything else, certainly not an indicator of what real life outside medicine is like.
     
  13. Mike59

    Mike59 Sweatshop FP in Ontario
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    50k wouldn't cut the mustard. bottom line.

    As much as I enjoy being a friendly, caring and genuine person with patients, I must admit that part of the reason I'm here is for the lifestyle...
     
  14. Mirror Form

    Mirror Form Thyroid Storm
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    50k isn't going to go very far toward buying a house and raising a family these days. Out of my three best friends from college who all did engineering with me, the lowest paid one made over 85k their second year out of college during what was supposed to be a recession. They're all still getting raises too. So it would be tough to accept such a lower standard of living in order to practice medicine, even though I like the medicine job much more then the engineering one.
     
  15. Vandyfox

    Vandyfox Member
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    No doubt, I'd still be doing medicine.
    An interviewer once told me that a number of Dr.'s are unhappy in practice / with their lives and I said that is probably because they 1) went after the $ (which is decreasing everywhere) or 2) had a love for the science, but not the people or 3) had a love for helping people, but not the science.

    I love the science, love the people- and i'm sure that if medicine were less profit-friendly, there'd be a group of us "Starving Dr.'s" out there who have to paint / sing / act / write just to help pay the bills.

    Ok, I admit it, I'd also try to marry some multigenerationally wealthy southern Belle who's daddy would support us forever.
    (Thank God I'm leaving Vanderbilt before i fell into that mentality for real)

    -Vandyfox
     
  16. orthoman5000

    orthoman5000 Senior Member
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    How many of you saying you would do it just for the love of it are medical students/residents and how many are pre-meds?
     
  17. Kalel

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    I'd definitely still be a doc. I couldn't imagine doing anything else, medicine is fun. The student loan payments would be rough though; before they decrease reimburement, I hope that they address the growing amount of debt we med students have to go under. ~10-20 yrs ago, the avg debt was something like ~5K. Now it's a little over 100K. You could still afford to pay that off with a 50K salary, but you wouldn't be able to buy something like a house for a long time.
     
  18. southerndoc

    southerndoc life is good
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    <- Unemployed Resident (start in a few weeks)
     
  19. 4 Ever

    4 Ever Senior Member
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    as much fun as it would be, I dont think I would want to go through the hell of applying, taking the mcat, going through med school, residency and end up with 200K in debt if all i would make is 40-50k. After taxes, it would be 30K/year. Id be paying back my loans for a long long time.

    now if the cost of attending were cheaper, then yes... but not with the current tuition rates
     
  20. Mr. Rosewater

    Mr. Rosewater Senior Member
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    anyone who thinks 50k is a living has no clue about life.
     
  21. johnnyjringo

    johnnyjringo Member
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    Bingo.

    Work 80 hours a week for a salary that barely qualifies as middle class? No chance. If that's all medicine payed, then much easier lifestyles that still allow you to focus your career around helping those in need (i.e. non-profits, teaching) become much more attractive. Medicine is attractive because it gives one the opportunity to make a respectable living (although still much less than in the corporate world) while serving the public. I'm not looking for a career that does little more than advance my bank account, but neither am I willing to sacrifice the comforts that a $150K+/year income brings. Also, reduce the pay of doctors, and you will drastically reduce the quality of the personnel entering the profession.
     
  22. Ender

    Ender ASA Member
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    One of the great things about medicine is that you can make enough money to give away free service (at home or abroad, i.e. medical missions), taking time off work, and still support your family. $50k just isn't enough to do that not to mention it's not worth the hours and effort you put in (you could make almost as much working the same amount of hours at Burger King ($8/hr + overtime @ 80hrs/week ~$45,000/year). Medicine is tough right now, and that would make it nearly impossible.
     
  23. kinetic

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    This is a funny issue because money is such a touchy subject in our society. People have two views on money and greed: "it's great and it led to all of the innovations in society" or "it's dirty and has polluted our society". Add to this the fact that doctors (for some reason) are the only people who are expected to do what they do "solely for love" (I've posted many times on this subject). Can you see a legal forum with "Would you still want to be a lawyer if you only made $50K a year"? :laugh: So why do we expect physicians to be different.

    Which is why I hate people who want to talk the talk but are hypocrites. You know, the people who in REAL LIFE (i.e., not SDN anonymous forums) spew the whole "I would be a doctor even if I was naked and broke on the streets in my own filth and vomit - because I love humanity that much." Those people are more apt (in my experience) to be money-hungry than anyone else. Which I don't mind - just be honest about it.

    There are also the people who try to make you feel bad because you DO think money is important. Hey, unless you're working pro bono, get off your high horse. Put your money where your mouth is.

    You have to like medicine to do it (otherwise it gets way too irritating) but that doesn't mean you have to love doing it for free.

    P.S. Ender, shouldn't you be practicing in the zero-G game rooms? You've got an alien invasion to stop.
     
  24. I'm a non-trad premed applying this year. This issue is interesting.
    I've asked the same question to my classmates (with $75K) and the types of replies are the same as here.

    My opinion: It doesn't matter if you are in for money, as long as you do a good job of curing people and making them feel good and not maltreated disrespectfully. As to how much is proper for physicians' salary: the ancient maxim, the reward should be proportionate to the gravity of the task done. What if (as it seems possible) physicians end up making under $80k? Many will turn away except those that are passionate about medicine, which will not be bad.

    I wonder how some of you going thru hell now but surviving with the promise that in few years you will be getting the just reward would react if it becomes certain that that promise is false. Bitter, regret, protest, leave, accept, unchanged?

    This question is a good one to ask oneself periodically to be reminded and focused as to why we are getting into this.

    By the way, very interesting to hear that about 40% of med students are suffering from mental and emotional imbalances and are under medication. Now I see why many med schools talk so much about meditations and other self-help methods. I'm sure those of you will become more caring physicians as you understand first-hand what it is to suffer.

    I've added nothing to the discussion. And not much will change anyway. This issue more for personal examination and reflection.
     
  25. phllystyl

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    As many have already stated, why would I choose a career where I have 0 earning potential of significance until im in my 30s and also accumulate >$200,000 of debt to become a member of that profession.

    There is no other profession that has those types of requirements. Parts of it, but nothing with all of those components.

    So, no... if the only thing to change were to be my eventual salary, it would make no sense for me to enter medicine. Love or not, you at some point have to look at how the bottom line is being affected, and how that affects your ability to provide for your future family and what not.
     
  26. Space-Wrangler

    Space-Wrangler Junior Member
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    I personally feel like this is a calling and medicine is probably the only career that will make me 100% satisfied. But still, in a society such as ours, you get what you pay for. The fact is that we really don't want doctors who make nothing because 1) the hardest working, best candidates will not enter the field (naive idealists such as myself excluded -- though I am hardly the "best and brightest") 2) we wouldn't have enough doctors

    That said, basic sciences is enough to make me wish I hadn't given up that career bussing tables... I was the best!

    pieces
     
  27. gschl1234

    gschl1234 Senior Member
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    That would be my ideal system. I said as much at one of my interviews, so yes, I would definitely do it. :thumbup:
     
  28. Jasminegab

    Jasminegab psych student
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    Did you miss the question addressed in this thread?

    Prehaps you wont go into medicine if it were ever to come down to you only making $50k/year as a doctor. That's ok, that's how you feel. Nothing wrong with that. That's YOUR feelings. Yet, your statement is offensive because the thread has nothing to do with understanding life and yet, you call those who do not agree with you albeit ignorant of life's meaning. Each of us has our own understanding of what life is and how life should be lived thus there's no need for you to belittle anyone on this forum. know this.
     
  29. Mr. Rosewater

    Mr. Rosewater Senior Member
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    whatever. i'm expressing my views. deal with it.

    btw, i love it when someone calls me "ignorant." it reminds me of michael jackson and it's always something that sounds stupid when pple say it.
     
  30. Jasminegab

    Jasminegab psych student
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    Correct me if I'm wrong, but did I call you ignorant? I said your comments called everyone ignorant of life meaning if they felt they could live on $50k/year. I'm only going by what you typed. Again, I'm not saying that it's wrong for you to think and express yourself openly. This is a free forum. What I am saying (not calling anyone ignorant) is your statement is offensive because YOU called anyone who disagrees with your thoughts ignorant of life's meaning. This is what you said right? Or, was someone using your name?

    As far as me having to deal with it, your wrong again, I'm not the one who has to deal with it because it was not me who made the comment. As student doctors who will someday be doctors, you say the wrong thing to your patient and it offends them, will you say to them, "DEAL WITH IT?" For your sake I sure hope not. But enough of my soapbox lectures. I just thought I would point out to you how you offended someone with your statements and I now see how you care what others think about what you say.
     
  31. Mr. Rosewater

    Mr. Rosewater Senior Member
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    yo, what are you arguing w/ me about?? 50K is a miserable, horrible salary. it means every day of your life will be a struggle. i don't understand what you're debating me about. If i said "i'd be happy making a hundred bucks a week" should everyone just respect that so as not to offend me? hell, if i said something so stupid i hope someone would point out how stupid i was being. to sum up my feelings, i think anyone who considers 50k to be a reasonable living (in todays america) is being a fool. am i not allowed to think that? or am i allowed to think it, but just not say it?
     
  32. Whisker Barrel Cortex

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  33. Baditude

    Baditude Senior Member
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    $50K is not a miseralbe horrible salary for most people. We have been living on less than that for the last 4 years while I went back to school. We own a nice house and are raising two kids and manage to take a couple nice vacations a year. Yes we live in an area where cost of living is not insane like San Francisco area but we are fai from struggling.
    Everyone has a certain level where they are satisfied and camfortable. Would I be happy having more money yes can I live with out it too.... yes.

    With all that being said like the original poster asked if medical school and malpractice insurance were paid for or free would I work for 50K a year.... If it were income tax free so my take home were 50K a year? Yep I sure would!!! I worked 80 hours a week between two jobs before I went back to school and I did't make 50K then and I managed to survive jobs I hated for alot less. :rolleyes:
     
  34. oumedst

    oumedst New Member

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    Gen Practice docs dont exactly have all sorts of time outside of work. If fact I think that along with Gen Surgery, Medicine (general, internal, family, whatever) is one of the harder working areas
     
  35. EMDrMoe

    EMDrMoe Senior Member
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    yes. absolutely. more now than ever before (which surprises me greatly thinking back over the last 2 years)
     
  36. care bear

    care bear pink fuzzy user
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    you are a master of hyperbole. . .

    where is the maudlin smiley playing the violin when you need it?

    50K may not be a great salary but it by no means is going to make 'every day a struggle' unless you've committed to too many things in this life.
     
  37. EMDrMoe

    EMDrMoe Senior Member
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    Thanks for being a voice from the other side :) I agree. It's not a "doctor's salary" but you can be quite comfortable if you don't have student loan debt & are decent with money.

    I do understand the feeling, too, that when you work so hard, why would you want to make as much as someone flipping burgers? Because if you love it, you do it.

    The different views here have been really good! thanks!
     
  38. WyldeWolf1

    WyldeWolf1 Get your own!
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    It's okay to be compensated for healing others. Don't let people tell you you're being a hypocrite for considering it; I bet none of them have ever turned down a raise at their job.

    It's less okay to heal for the money.

    It's not okay to let the money blind you, the physician, to the needs of those around you.

    Personally
    If I was a single man, I'd do it for any income as long as my basic needs were met. But my first responsibility is to provide for my family, and that means more than financially. For one thing, as my wife and I have discussed, if I am going to be spending so much time away from home, she is going to need to stay with our children. Other couples may feel differently, but it is important to us to avoid daycare and to spend the maximum amount of time with our children. That means that we want to be a one-income family.

    Medicine is a calling to me, but that calling is not as strong as those to be the best husband and father I can. I could do that on $50k, but not under the current financial and time constraints of medical training.

    Spiritually
    "The worker is worthy of his wages." Deut 25:4/1 Tim 5:18

    Politically
    Thomas Jefferson, in the Declaration of Independence, was compressing George Mason?s sentence from the Virginia Declaration of Rights, which said that among man?s natural rights "are the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety."

    There is no pursuing happiness without property rights. All other liberties spring from being secure in one's person and property.

    Clemensly
    "No man's Life, Liberty, and Property are safe while the legislature is in session." -Mark Twain
     
  39. Rod Farva

    Rod Farva Senior Member
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    Absolutely not.
     
  40. Mr. Rosewater

    Mr. Rosewater Senior Member
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    to the 2 of you who would still go through about 15 years of post graduate training to make half of what a garbage man on long island makes, good for you. your high minded ideas will surely earn you your wings, especially if you act on them and donate all earnings in excess of 50K when you start your practices. in the rest of us, some sense of fairness and practicality remains, and most of us feel that we deserve more income than a stripper.
     
  41. WyldeWolf1

    WyldeWolf1 Get your own!
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    I don't think (at least I HOPE) that no one is arguing that physicians deserve those kind of earnings. But it's also fair to ask each other and ourselves to honestly evaluate the importance of income when choosing this unique path in life. So on the one hand, we all agree that money matters. On the other hand, we all realize that we need to be driven primarily by more important ideals.

    Besides, my wife won't let me be a stripper. I asked.
     
  42. WatchingWaiting

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    Asking people this question at this point in their career is an inherently flawed exercise. Most people at the application or med school phase have very little experience with raising kids, owning a nice house, wanting to pay for your child's college, and the other concerns that occupy you when you're out in the "real world." And, of course, location matters. If you're in the midwest or south and can buy a quality home for $200K, things look very different than if you're in san francisco and $500K gets you little more than a shack.
     
  43. WyldeWolf1

    WyldeWolf1 Get your own!
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    Yeah, I guess some of us start functioning earlier than others.

    Yet another reason I love being a Southerner. Darn Yanks have already fouled up South Florida though. *shakes fist* ;)
     
  44. EctopicFetus

    EctopicFetus Keeping it funky enough
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    I could live on less than 50 or 70 K I mean I did go to college and eat Ramen so I could save my money for booze but the point is I dont want to. I work hard now for a reason! After College I got a job making 50K+, why would I then go back for another 7+ years for med school and residency to make the same or less? If you do we can arrange something. Give me the "extra money" and ill manage it for you. All these liberals blab but it is only a hypothetical. I want to see someone have the balls to do it.

    The other option give most of it to charity related to medicine and help improve the health care of the uninsured. No one here is willing to do that. All they do it pay it lip service.

    If they made tuition zero and maybe a stipend of a $1500 a month, and a salary in the 50K range much fewer people would be interested in the field. Actually if you are interested in a deal like that.... The military offers it. Go Join... I know they recruit at all med schools and thats basically what they offer. They are always looking for a few good men and women! Plus their match is way easier.
     
  45. Stinger86

    Stinger86 Intern year? Ha!
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    Yep, 50K/year and working in such a beneficent field as medicine might seem great now to some people, but when you want to start a family, own a nice house in a safe neighborhood, raise your kids, and send them to a good school, you'll find yourself wishing you had a little more financial elbow room..
     
  46. care bear

    care bear pink fuzzy user
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    no one ever claimed it was a 'good' or 'great' professional salary, just that they would be willing to get by on it for doing something they love.

    i don't think it's all lip service either. look how many people go into biological research!
    you have free grad school w/a stipend and then years of making less than $50 K (post-doc) and then probably a lifetime of making $50-$100K unless you are the more succesful minority.

    you have long hours. . .especially in your grad & postdoc years. . .and then more long hours throughout life if you want to be recognized. but people do it, because they love it. no one goes into; say, a Ph.D in molecular biology for the money.
     
  47. Yuliya11111

    Yuliya11111 Member
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    I completely agree with you here. Yes, $50K may not be a lot, but it is enough for some ppl. Why would you belittle someone based on what satisfies them? Do you know their family situation? No, you don't. Do you know if their spouse is also earning? How many kids do they have? Maybe they don't want a family at all, and don't want to live in NYC or Boston. Making generalizations like that is really naive and immature. :mad:

    I'm not saying I'd do it for 50K a year. I'd at least like some opportunities for advancement, maybe up to 70K or something.


     
  48. EctopicFetus

    EctopicFetus Keeping it funky enough
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    Yuliya1111 come and give us your opinoin after 2 or 3 years of med school. Most people who say they would do it for 50K havent started which renders their opinion somewhat ignorant. Med school is not undergrad. Remember people can join the military and do double good with a lot of perks. I dont think the military is over run with wanna be physicians! :D
     
  49. Yuliya11111

    Yuliya11111 Member
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    *Sigh*

    I really do wish people would read these threads or arguments more carefully, if they are going to post an opinion abot someone else's post. EctopicFetus, I didn't say I'd do it for 50000 compensation. However, I also don't need to earn over 100,000 to feel comfortable (as some ppl. on this forum apparently do).

    My POINT (which you missed) however was that whoever scoffed at living on 50K/year needs a reality check. They laughed at a 50K salary without knowing realizing that other ppl.'s goals might be a little different from theirs. Not everyone plans to have a family, not everyone wants to have 2.5 kids, send them to Ivy League, take a vacation everyyear, and generally live an upper class lifestyle. 50K year is quite enough for a married couple with no kids not living in an obnoxiously expensive city like NYC or San Francisco. Last time I checked, that was middle class salary, which constitues majority of Americans.
     
  50. oudoc08

    oudoc08 Please pass the gas...
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    The majority of Americans don't spend an average of 10-15 years of their lives relatively "income free" either (my term for being in school/res).
    So if doctors don't deserve to be "upper class" w/ the salary it entails, then who does?
     

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