Why You Should Have Gone to Med School, in One Gigantic Chart

A blog about business and economics.
June 23 2014 4:31 PM

Why You Should Have Gone to Med School, in One Gigantic Chart

495314721-doctor-wears-a-stethoscope-as-he-see-a-patient-for-a
Saving lives, making bank.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Seriously, your mother was right. The ridiculously long graph below (via Vox) ranks the best- and worst-paid jobs in America, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. It was created by Reddit user Dan Lin, who did the patient work of compiling average wages for 820 different occupations. And, as you can see, 13 of the top 15 spots belong to health care professions (in pink), with anesthesiologists nabbing the top spot, right above surgeons.

This speaks to a point Matt Yglesias has made on Slate previously: American doctors are way overpaid, in part because we have far too few of them. General practitioners earn more in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world, and our specialists are second only to the Netherlands, yet it doesn't seem to buy us more or better care. In the end, it's one of the many reasons U.S. medicine is so expensive. One could argue that our M.D.s need the high salaries to make up for the time and money they spend in medical school, along with their years toiling as poorly paid residents. But we'd be better off in a system that made med school cheaper and produced more graduates while funding residencies more generously (Medicare already subsidizes most of the training stints). While we're at it, we could also make it easier for foreign doctors to immigrate here. In any event, we'd probably be better off if the top of this graph wasn't quite so flush with pink. 

Jordan Weissmann is Slate's senior business and economics correspondent.

TODAY IN SLATE

Jurisprudence

Scalia’s Liberal Streak

The conservative justice’s most brilliant—and surprisingly progressive—moments on the bench.

Colorado Is Ground Zero for the Fight Over Female Voters

There’s a Way to Keep Ex-Cons Out of Prison That Pays for Itself. Why Don’t More States Use It?

The NFL Explains How It Sees “the Role of the Female”

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B

Culturebox

Theo’s Joint and Vanessa’s Whiskey

No sitcom did the “Very Special Episode” as well as The Cosby Show.

Television

The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

Cliff Huxtable Explains the World: Five Lessons From TV’s Greatest Dad

Why Television Needs a New Cosby Show Right Now

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 18 2014 8:20 PM A Clever Attempt at Explaining Away a Vote Against the Farm Bill
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 18 2014 6:02 PM A Chinese Company Just Announced the Biggest IPO in U.S. History
  Life
The Slate Quiz
Sept. 18 2014 11:44 PM Play the Slate News Quiz With Jeopardy! superchampion Ken Jennings.
  Double X
Doublex
Sept. 18 2014 8:07 PM Crying Rape False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 18 2014 1:23 PM “It’s Not Every Day That You Can Beat the World Champion” An exclusive interview with chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 4:33 PM The Top 5 Dadsplaining Moments From The Cosby Show
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 6:48 PM By 2100 the World's Population Could Be 11 Billion
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 18 2014 3:35 PM Do People Still Die of Rabies? And how do you know if an animal is rabid?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.