Medicine vs Finance

Currently a econ/comp sci major entering my sophomore year at a target. Until recently, I was very much set on finance, as such, I maintained a strong GPA and getting involved in more extracurricular activities. However, I recently started thinking about medicine again. My pros and cons are as follows:

Finance(S&T / IB)
Pros:
* I enjoy doing fundamental work on companies and watching the markets move
* Pays well
* Lots of experience that is applicable to other areas of business
Cons:
* A personal worry of mine is automation. Just from the articles I've read and people I've spoken to, headcount has been decreasing year after year. I know that certain asset classes are less susceptible to this such as distressed,HY, and structured products, but it still seems like these will be hit.
* It seems that there is an infinitesimal chance of making that seven figure salary that a Managing director makes.
* Possible layoffs if the economy downturns

**
Medicine**
Pros:
* You get to help a person that is in need.
* Good salary
* Always have a job unless you mess up
Cons:
* Big thing for me: depending on what you specialize in medicine, the pay can vary dramatically. The way I see it is you put in 4 yrs of undergrad, 4 yrs of med school, then a residency that could be 2-5 yrs depending on the specialty. The fact that you could be paid 200k for nearly 12 years of schooling really scares the shit out of me. Long story short: I'd have to be well compensated for hard work

  • Regulation in healthcare seems to mounting up more and more. Depending where the US moves on the healthcare issue, doctors could see a drastic paycut
  • Stress of having somebody's life in your hands. Can't mess up
  • Gotta start pre med requirements which could add an extra semester

Why would you do finance over medicine or vice versa? What path should I take? Do you think that in general, both fields are set to fundamentally change?

Thank you for staying for my rant. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Comments (20)

Aug 9, 2018

Try an internship or externship in finance and decide then. As much as pro/con lists are helpful, they really can't compare to in person experiences.

Automation can definitely hurt parts of econ and parts of medicine even, but it won't take down the entire industry. There are too many specialties in both fields before automation can take over everything.

Regulations can hurt healthcare, but if you have confidence in being a top notch doctor I don't think it should impact you.

Biggest question you gotta ask yourself is whether you will enjoy doing this for the rest of your life and do you actually find yourself able to specialize in whatever the field ends up being.

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Aug 9, 2018

Just finished up an internship and I liked it. However, I'm gonna try and shadow/volunteer a little bit in medicine during this upcoming semester to get a feel for both. I think that in the end.

Maybe I'm just overthinking this whole process, and I could end up being fine in either field

Aug 9, 2018

Finance. With the reasons you listed above, you would regret medicine.

Aug 10, 2018

Been in financial services seven years. One ex-girlfriend is a surgical resident and another is a nurse practitioner. I would say pursue what you're more passionate about in general, but understand that medical school is a nightmare and not everyone becomes a surgical resident.

My med school ex crushed it and finished in the top quintile of her class and is also a black female, and an extremely sweet and likeable person in general, so she landed a good residency. And she's a total science nerd and loves other human beings desperately and wants to help others. And she didn't have to take on any debt because she had scholarships in undergrad and her father paid for medical school because he's The Man.

But some of her classmates went into medicine to impress their parents or get a "prestigous" job and are now looking at like $400K in student loans or something insane between undergrad and four years of med school, and if they get stuck working as a general practioner, they earn like $160K to do annual checkups. That's a nightmare.

My general view is that you should, within reason, pursue what you're passionate about. Finance is not "professional abstract painter" in terms of downside risk. If you enjoy finance, have the requisite ability, and work hard, you should have a very good career.

"Now you's can't leave." -Sonny LoSpecchio

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Most Helpful
Aug 10, 2018
shadowforce:

Currently a econ/comp sci major entering my sophomore year at a target. Until recently, I was very much set on finance, as such, I maintained a strong GPA and getting involved in more extracurricular activities. However, I recently started thinking about medicine again. My pros and cons are as follows:

Finance(S&T / IB)
Pros:
* I enjoy doing fundamental work on companies and watching the markets move
* Pays well
* Lots of experience that is applicable to other areas of business
Cons:
* A personal worry of mine is automation. Just from the articles I've read and people I've spoken to, headcount has been decreasing year after year. I know that certain asset classes are less susceptible to this such as distressed,HY, and structured products, but it still seems like these will be hit.
* It seems that there is an infinitesimal chance of making that seven figure salary that a Managing director makes.
* Possible layoffs if the economy downturns

**
Medicine**
Pros:
* You get to help a person that is in need.
* Good salary
* Always have a job unless you mess up
Cons:
* Big thing for me: depending on what you specialize in medicine, the pay can vary dramatically. The way I see it is you put in 4 yrs of undergrad, 4 yrs of med school, then a residency that could be 2-5 yrs depending on the specialty. The fact that you could be paid 200k for nearly 12 years of schooling really scares the shit out of me. Long story short: I'd have to be well compensated for hard work

  • Regulation in healthcare seems to mounting up more and more. Depending where the US moves on the healthcare issue, doctors could see a drastic paycut
  • Stress of having somebody's life in your hands. Can't mess up
  • Gotta start pre med requirements which could add an extra semester

Why would you do finance over medicine or vice versa? What path should I take? Do you think that in general, both fields are set to fundamentally change?

Thank you for staying for my rant. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

What kind of medicine are you interested in? I'm surprised you did not mention this.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

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Aug 10, 2018

Both are okay but you need to pursue something that you are really interested.

Funniest
Aug 10, 2018
shadowforce:

The fact that you could be paid 200k for nearly 12 years of schooling really scares the shit out of me. Long story short: I'd have to be well compensated for my hard work

Maybe focus on passing organic chemistry first instead of worrying and posting stupid shit like this?

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Aug 10, 2018

This gave me flashbacks to when orgo made me switch majors

Aug 10, 2018

Get exposure to both and then decide what you like doing more. Loads of aspects in finance can't be automated, especially the qualitative side. The quant side still requires...quants.

You can make loads of money on both fields and there's also no reason you can't jump into something finance related after working in healthcare for a while.

Aug 10, 2018

This is coming from someone who was pre-med for 3 semesters, dead set on med school, and then switched to finance. First of all, I chose pre-med because I'm a cancer survivor, and had this dream for a while of becoming an oncologist to help others who went through what I did. But after studying the material, I realized I'm not interested in the field at all. Sure, considering all possible outcomes of a career path is a rational thing to do when considering your options. But my best advice is to do what you find most interesting, That's what's going to get you through all the unforeseen/negative outcomes.

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Aug 10, 2018

I'm in finance and my girlfriend is a recent med school grad so I'll just give you advice based on my perspective.

From my interactions with people in medicine, only do medicine if you truly love it. You list it above, but the amount of time and opportunity cost you give up to be a doctor is substantial. All of the doctors I have met initially chose medicine because they truly had an interest in being a doctor... sure some of them wanted to make money, but they could have just as easily chose a different career path to do that since most doctors are smart and have good grades coming out of college. I have heard countless stories of people doing medical school only to find out they don't truly enjoy it (they were chasing the $$$) and then pivot to something else.

In my opinion, finance is a little different. You can have a general interest in the matter, but you also don't sacrifice an enormous opportunity cost to figure out if you like it. You can do 2-3 years of finance while making a decent amount to discover if finance is truly for you. In medicine, you do 4 years of medical school to figure out you don't like it and you've already spent a ton on medical school and forgone competitive compensation during those 4 years as well.

My recommendation is: if you don't have that burning desire to be a doctor, or you're not sure if you want to be a doctor then I'd recommend at least exploring other options. Most of the doctors I have met had a burning desire to be a doctor since the start of college and that's why they don't mind 4 years of medical school, 3-5 years of residency and then potential fellowship afterward.

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Jul 8, 2019

Hi,

I know that this thread is archaic/prehistorical, but I think that I have insights, even though I am a new WSO user. For context, I am a college student who recently decided to pivot from pre-medicine path, to management consulting, and finance. I was the typical pre-medicine student, with outstanding grades, scientific research, and I worked as a clinical assistant until I left to pursue an internship more relevant to finance.

The comments here are correct: You shouldn't go into medicine for the money. I am aware the grass is greener on the other side, and that a lot of finance kids here seem to think that medicine is the "other path" to a life of outrageous salaries post-training. But, it isn't. You should do it because you'd want to do nothing else, even if you weren't paid and working in a rural dump, because that's what you'll do. Realistically, you won't be a young, rich doctor living in the city. Statistically, especially with the growing needs for medical services in rural areas, and/or geriatric care, you'll most likely work in an average town, and you won't be a surgeon.

Medicine is becoming more and more like IB: the most successful applicants are increasingly from our own group of target schools (in this case, John Hopkins, UCLA, Cornell, Stanford, and all GPA padding schools). Kids at my school are coming into college with a summer or two of scientific research and/or shadowing experience, along with a healthy dose of hospital work. Applications for a class start in May of the year prior, and MCAT scores takes months to be updated.

That being said, I hope that you've made up your mind, but just know that medical schools are increasingly preferring older applicants. There isn't a stigma about age, or experience, in medicine. The average medical student will be accepted at 24 in the United States. In fact, as an admissions officer for a medical school, I would love to see investment banking experience: exposure to long hours, understanding of what it's like to work so much that you lose faith in what you do, and a sense of drive.

Get investment banking out of your system for a couple years, and if medicine still calls out your name, take your prerequisites, MCAT, and get some clinical experience. You won't regret taking the time to do both, and not have a regret. You'll end up being one of the physicians who doesn't regret medicine, because you've experience everything you would have regretted. (Also, CS as a pre-med major is a huge asset due to AI, and automation o medicine)

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Jul 8, 2019

I'm contemplating of going into medical field after my military career. I've worked as a trader in the past and seeing where this industry is going, I'm losing hope from the grim outlook. I mean... just seeing the headlines of DB laying of 18,000 workers just proves my point and I think the only people who are really secured are those who are exceptionally good at math or programming. I thought of becoming a physician assistant... average salary $120K but could be upwards of $200K. Strong job security and ageism isn't a factor. Though, you have to complete a master's degree. I just don't think there are enough jobs to go around in finance like there used to be and there are too many people competing for the same job and it's only going to get worse.

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Jul 8, 2019

And you believe $120-$200k for a physician's assistant is sustainable? Seems ripe for some salary compression. Similar to what finance is and currently is going through.

Jul 8, 2019

Because people see the word assistant, they think it's an admin job. Depending on your expertise, physician assistant can be in the ER room doing surgeries with the supervision of a doctor... they can diagnose diseases just like a doctor. They're an extension of a doctor under a doctors supervision but they have their own autonomy. Physician assistant had the highest job growth in the medical field... ranked #1.

Aug 8, 2019

Physician Assistant Salary if anything is going up... Although it is very very rare to be making 200k unless you are working extreme amounts of overtime. I've never heard of any PA making that much. Maybe the absolute top dogs who are at the end of their careers at like Mayo Clinic or something make that much

Most Physician Assistants typically make 90-95k right out of school and top out at 120k, some at 150k. It is an easy guaranteed 6 figures but low ceiling

Jul 8, 2019

Do you want to be your own boss?

Secondarily, Marx was correct, Capital has an unfair natural advantage over labor. It can't be changed, so in your short life, which side of that equation do you want to be on?

If you are an employee mindset, then I'd go with medicine, more job security and you don't have to be in a big city

Aug 8, 2019

For context I am a surgical resident. Only choose medicine for the humanitarian aspect and lifelong learning of the subject material. Looking for money in medicine will lead to a career of misery.

It costs around $3-400k at 7% to go to medical school nowadays with a subsequent 3-7 years of 80h/wk residency at ~$60k salary. Only at mid-30s with a significiant negative net worth despite having already worked very hard do you have merely the opportunity to make "real" money. As an attending it's not uncommon to work 60hr weeks with night call in a high stress environment. Most physicians are family medicine, internal medicine or pediatrics making $200-250k... hardly a life of country clubs, vacation homes and private school when you consider the large student loan payments. Sure, the cardiologists and orthopedic surgeons make multiples of that but have an insane dedication to their craft, had to overcome a very competitive pool of other med students to land a training spot, and work in the current environment which has been conducive to these high salaries and are absolutely not guaranteed to last. Additionally getting a job in an urban area is notoriously difficult for physicians due to maldistribution of the workforce and often you will need to either live in a smaller/less desirable location or else take a substantial paycut. It's a whole hell a lot of work and opportunity cost.

Aug 9, 2019
Comment

No pain no game.