This site, shared on facebook many times, as well as linked in many places, claims that, because of the immense amount of debt and training doctors must undergo, an American physician, when you divide his/her lifetime earnings by his/her hours put into medical training and education and work, including debt, will make 3 cents per hour less over a lifetime of work than a teacher (also in America).

Is this claim correct?

  • For doctors, is being "on call" count as time worked?
    – vartec
    Aug 5, 2015 at 22:55

2 Answers 2


The calculation you're linking to assumes 20,000 hours of work during residency.

According to Wikipedia's section on residency in the United States, the residency usually lasts for one year (state dependent) and the number of working hours is limited to 80 per week. That makes a maximum of 4,160 hours, which is not even close to the number used in the claim.

  • The source also claims $150,000 earned during residency. If that's true, it's probably talking about a 3-year residency (considering Wikipedia also claims a $45k/yr residency salary is average). That would get the residency time to the neighborhood of 12,480 hrs), which is at least within a single order of magnitude of the estimates.
    – Flimzy
    Aug 6, 2015 at 17:54
  • @Flimzy: Sure, but within a single order of magnitude is more than enough to tilt the three cent per hour difference. Aug 6, 2015 at 18:09
  • From the AMA's website: "newly graduated MDs enter into a residency program that is three to seven years or more of professional training under the supervision of senior physician educators." Requirements for Becoming a Physician
    – jzx
    Aug 10, 2015 at 11:43
  • 3
    Your claim is strikingly incorrect. The Wikipedia section you link to states that the intern year is one year, while the article elsewhere says that residency lasts three to seven years.
    – A. Rex
    Aug 21, 2015 at 23:02

The average salary of teachers differ tremendously between different states. So at the very least the fact that the statistics the OP mentions says nothing about state specific salaries for teachers it does call into question the validity of the statistics.

In New York which is generally consider one of the best states to be a teacher in statistics are in the line of...


Giving an annual average salary $69,118

If you compare that with one of the worst states to be a teacher in Arizona you get salary statistic more in line of...


For an average of less than $47 000 a year.

Seeing as the average College Board in the US gives a rough estimate of education costs.

$16,325 (community college)
$23,410 (in-state students at a four-year public college)
$37,229 (out-of-state students at a four-year public college)
$46,272 (private non-profit four-year college)


You are talking about anywhere between $60 000 and $180 000 worth of expenses for a general four year program. If you for arguments sake say you go to a premier university You will be laden with lets $ 180 000 worth of debt.

If you work for forty years that would give a lifetime salary of 2.115 million dollars in Arizona and 3,105 million dollars in New York. Which is actually a fair bit different than the what the OP's source claims.

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