Ebola Reading

The current Ebola scare and the growing story of its mismanagement made me remember two excellent books:

  1. The Hot Zone, the nonfiction thriller about Ebola that I found highly disturbing in middle school. For an even scarier read, try its spiritual sequel, The Demon in the Freezer (in which Preston details how much bioweapons grade Smallpox the former Soviet Union may have misplaced). I don’t know if Preston invented the nonfiction biomedical pageturner, but he was extremely good at it.
  2. The Stand. Stephen King’s magnum opus was re-released uncut and unedited (1200 pages!) in 2012. Viral apocalypse literature at its finest. It’s no spoiler to say that the government does neither a great nor honest job when faced with a deadly virus.

The resident gender pay gap?

When people talk about the very real gender pay gap, they’re talking about women and men being paid different amounts for doing the same work. There is a pay gap in medicine, and that’s a problem.

What’s so odd then is this discussion of the gender pay gap in the most recent Medscape Resident Salary and Debt Report:

Salaries for women in residency are lower than those for men ($54,000 and $56,000, respectively). The gender disparity in residents, however, is only 4% compared with a disparity of 24% among all physicians, according to the latest Medscape Physician Compensation report. The much smaller difference among residents is most likely due to their work in the hospital setting, where salaries are consistent. But disparity seems to be a continuing problem.

And later:

Over three quarters (76%) of male residents work at least 51 hours per week in the hospital compared with 68% of women. Such a discrepancy might be one reason for the slight income disparity between male and female residents.


  • Resident salaries do not actually vary by gender.
  • Residents cannot bargain for salary increases on an individual basis.
  • Residents are salaried (stipended) workers who do not get paid by the hour as residents (moonlighting aside).

I can think of a few more plausible explanations for the small resident gender pay gap in this totally nonrandom sample of 1279 residents from different fields not accounting for seniority:

  1. Out of survey respondents, men were more likely than women to choose specialties with long residencies. This is a general trend which has been demonstrated previously. Resident pay is graded by PGY level. If you are a resident longer, you will eventually get paid more. So a male PGY6 neurosurgery resident gets paid more than a female PGY3 pediatrics resident.
  2. Out of survey respondents, the men who answered had a slightly higher PGY level on average than the female respondents, and this wasn’t controlled for. Same logic as above.
  3. Out of survey respondents, slightly more men lived in geographically expensive areas with consequent larger salaries thanks to CMS.

I would argue that given the classically terrible methodology of Medscape surveys, that the above explanations or more likely than a nefarious but hitherto unknown hidden systematic gender pay gap among resident physicians. The real problem lies in landing that first job after residency and continues from there.

I’ll leave John Oliver to weigh in more eloquently:

A new (!) (very very short) story in Microliterature

Microliterature (“the most popular publication for acclaimed works between 1-1000 words”) has published another entry in my extremely slowly growing collection of Craigslist fiction: “1938 ‘Yosemite Landscape’ Oil Painting,” up on the front page for the next week and at the link above indefinitely.

Microliterature has been around for just over four years, and while the design has changed a bit over time, it has remained pitch perfect venue for very very short stories throughout. Back in 2012, their fine editorial team also published my story, “Did you hear about Lauren?

Board Review: The Gunner “Methods to Success” Fallacy

Much of the entire self-help book market is predicated on the idea that copying the habits of successful people will make you successful. This is untrue.1 This isn’t to say that no one benefits from this shared wisdom, but while someone else’s methods may work for you, the most important thing to know about other peoples’ success is that it is theirs. Continue reading

  1. The same can be said any other resource that purports to help you succeed by sharing the secrets of the elite.