June 26 at Washington Post

I’ve seen a bunch of whiny op-eds and essays from doctors recently, complaining that it’s oh-so-terrible to be a physician these days and that every M.D. wants out.  

I’ve seen some good rebuttals to these complaints, including this one from Aaron Carroll. I’ll add to his takedown the chart below, from PayScale:

PayScale collects salary data, but it also surveys workers about whether their work makes the world a better place (a measure of how “meaningful” the job is). Few occupations rank as both well-paid and highly meaningful. If you mouse over the chart, you’ll see that people in those few careers that are both financially and psychically rewarding tend to be some flavor of physician, including surgeons, anesthesiologists and psychiatrists.

There are, of course, plenty of careers that are lucrative but not terribly meaningful. Lawyers fall into this category: Only 40 percent of lawyers say their work makes the world a better place, despite a median salary of $89,900.

Among the occupations with the lowest pay and highest perceived meaningfulness: clergy (97 percent find it meaningful, and median pay is $45,400). Alas, there are no data specifically looking at that other narrow group of professionals doing God’s work: investment bankers. Probably the closest category is financial analysts, of whom only 40 percent find meaning in their work; their median pay is $64,900.