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

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.


The Slatest

Ben Bradlee Dead at 93

The legendary Washington Post editor presided over the paper’s Watergate coverage.

This Scene From All The President’s Men Captures Ben Bradlee’s Genius

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Whole Foods Is Desperate for Customers to Feel Warm and Fuzzy Again

The XX Factor

I’m 25. I Have $250.03.

My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I’m 25. I Have $250.03. My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

George Tiller’s Murderer Threatens Another Abortion Provider, Claims Free Speech

The Congressional Republican Digging Through Scientists’ Grant Proposals

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 3:13 PM Why Countries Make Human Rights Pledges They Have No Intention of Honoring
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 9:42 PM The All The President’s Men Scene That Perfectly Captured Ben Bradlee’s Genius
Oct. 21 2014 5:38 PM Justified Paranoia Citizenfour offers a look into the mind of Edward Snowden.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.