Monday, November 27, 2006

Doctors shunning Medicine for Wall Street....

An interesting article in the NY Times today talks about how doctors, and other professionals, including academically trained Ph.D's, are shunning their chosen fields for high-paying business consulting positions on Wall Street. The article points to the widening chasm between the rich and the really rich. Apparently the proportion of high net-worth individuals and households in this country has grown in spite of the rocky economic Wall Street rollercoaster these last few years. They use the case study of one physician, formerly a hem-onc specialist, who left his "low-paying" 150K job for the more lucrative now likely 7-figure position in a marketing consulting firm.

Medical schools are even recognizing doctor's interest in business with 40 schools adding an optional 5th-year M.B.A. program in the last 20 years. The doctor in the case study's critical role is to evaluate new drugs from start-up biotechs for his employer, Merrill Lynch, to see if they live up to their claims. Paying the bills and creating a financially secure future for their children to live out their dreams seems to be a prime-motivator for making the transition from their chosen careers to these high-paying positions. Many of them will also start charities, or give enormous sums for their cause of choice. I have no disdain for them, as long as they do good with their money. Charity in the hands of the privately wealthy, in my opinion, like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is more accountable to the dollars. If the funding is private and in large amounts, they want to know that their money is being put to good use. Andrew Carnegie felt that philanthropy was the obligation of the wealthy. Perhaps we should be teaching that to our children....

Hey, wait a second..... Am I defending the wealthy here? Hell, I'd love to be a part of the richy, rich. But only so that I could direct my money to causes that do good for society. That's part of what motivates me to make more money than to just subsist, as many of us do, skimming by at our cost of living. I'd like to be able to afford more of a contribution to society than just paying my taxes and those $100 checks here and there to charity.

This is what the doctor in the article says,

“I wasn’t sure that I was willing to take the risk of spending many years applying for grants and working long hours for the very slim chance of winning at the roulette table and making a significant contribution to the scientific literature,” he said.

I say: "Is he a sell-out?" I'm not going to be the judge of that.

I do have this to say, though. Is something wrong when money is luring doctors from the skilled trades they were trained to perform? I put it out there for you to ponder. Does something need to change in our society to keep talented professionals in their initial chosen field? Or is it that the most important thing in human nature, as the movie Thank You for Smoking so poignantly points out is a "paying the mortgage"? Does one justify the other? Maybe paying the mortgage is what life is all about. The rest is just fluff.

2 Comments:

Blogger The Independent Urologist said...

How do I get one of those jobs?

10:25 PM EST  
Anonymous Carlislo said...

money talks. it is sad though because there is a lack of practitioners but there seems to be no shortage of bankers and consultants

8:04 PM EDT  

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