Pick a Job!! Doctor, TV Series Actor, or Professional Athlete

Doctor Jobs vs. Pro Athlete Jobs vs. TV Actor Jobs
Doctors earn up to 500 times less than pro athletes and TV actors

**********Medical Doctor**********

Compensation for Medical Doctor Jobs: Residency/Fellowship Average: $40,000-55,000 for 3-8 years and 80 hours a week.   Practicing physician average is $150,000—$275,000 year

Respect: “Thanks for removing my inflamed, gangrenous gallbladder–but can you hurry up?  I don’t want to miss Grey’s Anatomy and the Lakers Game” or “You saved my life…..Oh my gosh….Magic Johnson is outside your office…how do I look….OMG  do you think he will give me an autograph…do you think he will even notice me….ok doc I gotta run.”


Medical Malpractice Claims from patients

Reports to the National Physicians Database

Hospital Peer Review

False online reviews from disgruntled employees or competitive colleagues causing damage to reputation

Reports to Medical Board

Billing to Medicare monitored

Surgical complications

Medical complications

Being audited by insurance companies

Being audited by Medicare

Liability in accepting any kind of benefits/gifts from drug companies

Patients who feign illnesses to get narcotics prescriptions


Patient’s lives are in your hands

Earning adequate CME credits/year

Hiring Staff, Paying Rent, Managing Office

E-prescribing medications

Keeping Malpractice Insurance Up to Date

Recredentialing for Hospitals and Insurance Companies

Maintenance of Certification Exams even after Boards are over

Attending medical meetings

Charting patient consultations, history and physicals

Calling consultants about patients

Writing reports to consultants

Meaningful Use Reporting

Calling patients with test results

Being on call and being available for emergencies 24/7

Medical advice for family members and friends

Getting prior authorizations for radiology scans, procedures, and medications

Calling pharmacies with refill requests and questions

Admitting sick patients to the hospital

Rounding on Hospital patients early in the morning or late at night after office hours

Dictating hospital notes and procedures in a timely manner

Paying off hundreds of thousands of dollars in college and medical school loans

 Lifestyle: Poor work hours in most fields

 Education Requirements:

High School.  GPA close to 4.0

College—4 years.  GPA close to 4.0

MCAT exam: Must have excellent scores

Medical School—4 years

Pass USMLE step 1, step 2, and step 3 exams

Residency—3-8 years

Pass Specialty Boards

Fellowship—1-3 years in many fields

Pass Board for Fellowship

Average Retirement: 60’s-80’s


**********Actors on Television Series**********

Compensation of Actors Playing Doctors on TV:  These actors make more in an episode than most doctors make in a year!!  $350,000/episode x 200 episodes  for actors in Grey’s Anatomy including Patrick Dempsey, Sandra Oh, and Ellen Pompeo who all play doctors on television.  Hugh Laurie who played a doctor on the show House made $700,000 per episode x 177 episodes!  These figures do not include sponsorships, commercials, or endorsements

Respect: Fans will do just about anything to show their love.  The media loves TV actors and showcases them.  Fancy awards ceremonies.  Fancy parties.  VIP status.  Want to get a table at a packed restaurant—you’re in.

Liability: Low.  A given series may be cancelled.

Responsibility: Auditions and learning new lines.

Lifestyle: Excellent.

Years of Education: None required

Average Retirement: Varies


**********Professional Athlete**********

Compensation of Professional Basketball Players:  In 2012-2013, Kobe Bryant earned $59.8 million dollars with endorsements and Lebron James earned $57.6 million.  The rookies of professional basketball teams typically earn between $800,000-$2,000,000 a year.

Respect: Fans will do just about anything to show their love.  The media loves professional athletes and showcases them.  Fancy awards ceremonies.  Fancy parties.  VIP status.  Want to get a table at a packed restaurant—you’re in.

Liability: Physical Injury.  Typically no issues of life or death unless in a very risky sport such as racecar driving.  They have the best physicians in the business to treat them.

Responsibility:  Training and intense practice.  Making the fans happy.  Winning the game.  Being a team player in many sports.

Lifestyle: Lots of traveling, but lots of downtime as well

Retirement: 30’s is considered old and you can retire and enjoy life without working.  Retirement age for pro athletes is the exact same time when most physicians get their first real paycheck.

Years of Education: High School Diploma for the NBA

Now which job would you choose?

This blog post is not to discourage people from pursuing doctor jobs, but it is to highlight the value system in our country.   TV and sports are wonderfully entertaining.  However, those pretending to save people’s lives on TV, and those who play games to entertain others, are rewarded by our society to the extent that the financial remuneration for those individuals is disproportionately higher (close to 500 times higher in some cases) than doctors’ salaries in this country.

I am just utterly confused.  Please help me understand this.

The job that requires the highest level of education and the highest level of responsibility has the lowest level of respect and the absolute lowest compensation of the three.

How is it possible that the doctor who saved your life could have earned a hundred times more and had less liability if he had just pretended to save your life on TV?

Adam Katz  MD  MBA


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