Do people really go into medicine to help people or for the steady and high income?

JohnBrohan's picture
Rank: Gorilla | 500

Obviously, the profession of medicine is to be respected. But one can respect a professional but not necessarily each professional. All the time, people say stuff like "doctors heal people, IBankers make rich people richer, lawyers lie and sue," etc. I've seen a bunch of articles about bankers and lawyers who became doctors every now and again. Of course, the kids I knew who went to med school little after college claim "I don't care about the money." "Yea I like to neuro or pediatrics" (pediatrics make the least money of the subspecialties, no medicare to bill and no fancy procedures).

People can say anything. I'm gonna do MSF, and at times, yea I get buyers remorse about the fact the rest of my life is likely to help rich people get richer so I can get richer. Part of me does think "wouldn't it be nice to directly help people (not indirectly BC some company merged and provided more efficient pricing blah blah)" and also about the steady salary without worrying about routine layoffs, BC I know in finance job security isn't what it is in medicine. Now I don't have the quant and chem/physics chops to go to med school. And yea doctors get mad respect, and can pick up honeys easier than most GS analysts at Pacha. But I admit I'm in finance for the money. Do most med students chose medicine for the healing people stuff, or more for the secure and high income, work/life balance (once practicing) compared to bankers/biglaw, and respect, with the trade off being the possibility of not getting matched to the preferred residency or getting into an American med school, as well as the debt (assuming their parents aren't paying) and the years it takes to practice (med school, residency, fellowship=~10 yrs)? How about if their parents are paying? Lotta rich kids in medicine.

Obviously the grass is always greener on the other side but since we love money here and will admit it, why not get some insights. Like yea one could say "if I wanted to make a lotta money I'd have gone to Wall Street," and doctors are smart enough that if they're from a target they could easily get in, but they do have a point about job stability and work/life balance.

Comments (25)

Apr 30, 2014

I worked with many doctors and they all said to go into business/finance if you want to make money because med school debt is no joke. 4+ years of residency after med schol getting paid 45k also means you will be 30+ years old with almost half a million in debt before you start making real money. After that it will probably take a few years to really save up and before you know it, youre 45+ years old.

Apr 30, 2014

Someone who actually follows through with being a doctor must have some dedication to the field. Shit is no joke.

I hope you realize that the whole world is a grey area- you should have plenty of choices that allow you to help people and make money.

"That dude is so haole, he don't even have any breath left."

Apr 30, 2014

I know no almost no one has gone into medicine for the money, because quite frankly for most it doesn't pay that great. It involves huge amounts of sacrifice, say goodbye to your twenties and potential early thirties too. If you go straight out of your BS at 22, you'll walk with your MD or DO at 26, for an internal medicine or family practice residency you'll be done at 29, general surgery will take you to age 31 and for neurosurgery you'll be 34. Desirable fellowships like cardiology are three years on top of 3 years of IM. All the while you're making 40 or 50k in residency, with a debt load of easily over a quarter of a million dollars. There are much easier ways to make the money. Even once you get out, you're making six figures, but unless you build out your own practice you're never going to be making more than mid six figures.

In summary, if you want to make money going to Wall Street or into consulting or hell even to a F500 will likely make you as much and once you figure in the time you lose in school and the insane hours, these other positions come out well ahead.

Apr 30, 2014

I started off in college thinking about medicine and ended up going into IB, in large part because I realized I didn't enjoy science as much as I thought I did. I have heard time and time again that if you're not interested in medicine, you won't make it - it's definitely a long process. That being said, and being a bit pedantic, just because it's expensive and they could make more money elsewhere doesn't mean they are doing it specifically to help people.

Also, there are a multitude of ways you can directly help people in your life outside of your day job, it's not like going into finance will turn you into a self-serving person who is unable to directly help anyone. For example, I know people in finance who are motivated to earn a lot of money because they like to give literally most of it away in the form of scholarships and donations to causes they believe in.

May 1, 2014

like most things it's a mix of many factors...helping people is one but if doctor was low status and low income fewer people would do it.

May 19, 2014

For the first 4 to 10 years (depending on specialty), medicine is relatively low-income. I think 7th year neurosurgery residents make ~70k per year. By this time, you are 33 years old. A VP at Goldman is probably making 300 to 500k or more. Medicine is certainly high-status but high-income? Not until you are 35+ years old.

May 19, 2014

it's high-income relative to most occupations. moreover, medicine is less risky as a career than finance, if you take that into account the gap narrows.

May 19, 2014

I'm going into medicine for the money. If you're like me and come from a white trash upbringing with abysmal public school pedigree, you couldn't possibly hope to break into high finance (or big law or any of the other lucrative non-medical fields.) I've "settled" for a bottom tier US medical school where my worst option is matching into internal medicine and making $225-250k/year as a hospitalist. Getting into medical school was difficult and medical school and residency will be even more difficult, but it's my only realistic shot at making that kind of money.

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May 19, 2014

You need an Ivy/Stanford/MIT degree to get into a reputable bank. You can get into medicine with good grades at a piece of shit state school, an 80th percentile MCAT score, and some bullshit extracurricular activities. I'm an example of this. You can match into neurosurgery coming from a bottom tier or unranked medical school, just look at some match lists. You're comparing apples and oranges.

May 19, 2014

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May 19, 2014
jbanks89:

You need an Ivy/Stanford/MIT degree to get into a reputable bank. You can get into medicine with good grades at a piece of shit state school, an 80th percentile MCAT score, and some bullshit extracurricular activities. I'm an example of this. You can match into neurosurgery coming from a bottom tier or unranked medical school, just look at some match lists. You're comparing apples and oranges.

dude, the doctor (not DO, not PA) who comes from a mediocre state school is as rare as the IBD analyst from SUNY New Paltz. Also, even the unranked med schools have single digit acceptance rates, which rivals the top of the Ivy League. Lets not poo poo doctors here, most of them, if they majored in finance wherever they went, probably could've gotten into IBD or at least superday. Catch is some people wanna have fun in college.

May 19, 2014
jbanks89:

You need an Ivy/Stanford/MIT degree to get into a reputable bank.

This is plain false.

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May 20, 2014

I suppose it depends on how non-target your school is? In the century and a half my garbage university has been around, I cannot find evidence of a single person in investment banking.

On the other hand, my school still manages to get a student or two into medical school every five years.

May 19, 2014

have a small sample, but here's why my buddies went into med school

1. interest in science/helping people/true love for what you do
2. lifestyle once established
3. money

the thing about the money is unless you specialize or do research, you aren't making north of $500k, and if you add on malpractice insurance to that, it's really not that much to take home.

as for lifestyle, if you're in private practice, you might work 10 hours a week if you come in 5x a week for 2hrs worth of procedures each time. time outside of that might be on running the business if you're a managing partner, but unless you're in a hospital, your lifestyle is whatever you want it to be.

it will be interesting to see what happens in the next 10-20 years because my hunch is that the gummint is trying to make medicine cheaper and doctors paid less (like some of our friends abroad). will concierge care become more en vogue? will med school applications tank? will standards suffer? remains to be seen, but it will be interesting.

May 19, 2014

JohnBrohan, you have no idea what you're talking about. Lower tier medical schools are filled with people like me. My medical school (private US MD) has a 2-3% acceptance rate but the average applicant submits something like 15 applications. Academic pedigree is irrelevant as far as medical schools admissions are concerned, with maybe the top 5 schools being an exception. Per AAMC statistics, someone like me has a 67% chance of getting into one or more medical schools.

I guarantee you I would have failed at getting a job in IBD.

(Sorry, but I can't quote your post because WSO's message board software is complete shit.)

May 19, 2014
jbanks89:

JohnBrohan, you have no idea what you're talking about. Lower tier medical schools are filled with people like me. My medical school (private US MD) has a 2-3% acceptance rate but the average applicant submits something like 15 applications. Academic pedigree is irrelevant as far as medical schools admissions are concerned, with maybe the top 5 schools being an exception. Per AAMC statistics, someone like me has a 67% chance of getting into one or more medical schools.

I guarantee you I would have failed at getting a job in IBD.

(Sorry, but I can't quote your post because WSO's message board software is complete shit.)

Quoting to tell you that your browser is complete shit.

"That dude is so haole, he don't even have any breath left."

May 19, 2014

In all serious, whose getting into New York Medical College (unranked)? The guy with a 3.8 from Harvard, EMS summer internship, research, 3.7 chem/physics/biology/cal or the guy with 4.0 from NYIT, same internships, and 3.93 chem/physics/biology/calc? Or even Lehigh, not NYIT.

May 19, 2014

The point is that guys from NYIT or Lehigh stand an excellent shot at getting into medical school with decent grades. It's not like investment banking where you could have a 4.0 from State U but unless your daddy is an MD, your resume gets insta-shitcanned because it's not from an Ivy or target school.

May 19, 2014

jbanks has been pretty accurate. Med school admissions are not very pedigree/prestige driven, at least for most schools. Also, keep in mind, in-state vs. out-of-state applications are an enormous/equalizing factor. In-state acceptance rates can be several times higher than the out-of-state acceptance rates

May 19, 2014

thebrofessor your figures are completely off. $300-400k is a reasonable gross figure, after overhead and malpractice. No one is working 10 hours a week. The average is closer to 50-60 hours a week. Procedural specialties like surgery, cardiology, gastro, etc. might spend 60% of their time in the operating room and 40% of their time in clinic.

May 19, 2014

I have tons of respect for those who work in medicine.

May 19, 2014
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