The Opportunity Cost of a Career in Medicine

We all know establishing a medical career in America is a long arduous process that requires much talent and even more dedication.  Sure we enjoy the respect of those around us and the privilege of reaching inside another human being without going to jail, but we also enjoy the gift of delayed satisfaction.  Do we really end up better off (financially speaking) compared to our friends who enter the workforce immediately after college?  Let's take a look at how that adds up in terms of dollars and cents...


In order to compare these 2 scenarios, I make the following assumptions.  Your individual situation may vary depending on your chosen specialty of practice.  Notice I did not include student debt in my modeling as I expect you to pay for that along with all other living expenses out of the un-invested 85% of your income.  An editable Excel Spreadsheet is provided here if you would like to play with the numbers. 

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Starting Work After College

Starting Work After Medical School


As you can see, despite delayed entry into the workplace, physicians still come out ahead compared to their friends who start earning an income immediately after college (on average).  Given my assumptions, the breakeven point where you catch up with your friends in term of investments is ~10 years after college.  Want to enter your own assumptions?  Download the editable Excel Spreadsheet here!  


Future Proof, MD

Dr. Bo Liu is an aspiring radiologist-in-training and the founder and editor of the White Coat Money Blog.  He has an interest in interventional radiology and helping his medical colleagues get ahead in this mad world of medicine and money.  When he's not crushing the list at the PACS station or typing up your next favorite blog post, you can usually find him at the local badminton club, movie theater or the most recently opened restaurant.