Survey shows difference in job concerns

By Alissa Groeninger

Despite the typically high incomes of both doctors and lawyers, a new survey by Kaplan Test Prep, a company that helps prepare students for exams, indicates that pre-law students are more concerned with potential earnings than pre-med students.

Kaplan surveyed 914 pre-med and pre-law students after the January 2008 Medical College Admission Test, or MCAT, and the December 2007 Law School Admission Test, or LSAT. According to the results of the surveys, 71 percent of LSAT takers answered that potential earning power “very much” or “somewhat” impacted their career choice, as compared to 41 percent of MCAT takers.

Matt Fidler, director of pre-health programs for Kaplan, said pre-med students often have lifelong goals of becoming a doctor, and they do not usually factor in finances when they are trying to fulfill their lifelong vision. He added that students do not usually decide to attend law school until they are in college.

Chris Rishel, a University alum and University of Chicago medical student, said money is less of a concern among medical students because it takes them longer to make money. A medical professional may be in medical school for four years and in residency for a decade before they receive significant earnings, he said.

“If you are driven by money, it’s not the most efficient way to do it,” Rishel added.

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    The most common reason pre-med students gave as a purpose to pursue medicine was a desire to make a difference in the world by helping others, according to the survey.

    “There are a lot of folks who want to be doctors to essentially make the world a better place,” Fidler said.

    Katie Pieper, a third-year law student at the University and also Student Bar Association President, said if the study is true, it is because the medical field is for helping others and success is based less on money.

    Pieper stated, however, that she and many other students pursue law in order to help others and make a difference.

    Despite the findings, it is important to note that many students enter the field of law to do pro bono work and to help others, Fidler said.

    There are also many medical students who enter the field for job and financial security, Rishel said.

    An interest in science and a personal experience with medicine were the two other most common responses given when asked why MCAT takers wanted to pursue a career in medicine.

    Of LSAT takers, 42 percent indicated that they definitely or most likely would pursue political office, according to Kaplan.

    “I had one person tell me I can be on their cabinet when they’re president,” Pieper said.

    Another finding by the survey was that female pre-med students are potentially more dedicated to a medical profession than their male counterparts. While 45 percent of female MCAT takers have never considered a profession other than medicine, 65 percent of male MCAT takers have considered an alternative career path.

    Fidler said this is important because in recent years the number of female and male medical students became even.

    “It’s nice to see that there is parity among the sexes in (medical) school graduation now,” Fidler said.