In one of my first blog posts back in 2006 I said people overestimate the social value of joining a helping profession, like doctors:
Yes, if you choose to be a doctor, you will spend your time providing services that people perceive to have value, sometimes enormous value. However, you cannot take full credit for this value. (more)
Now 80,000 Hours’ Rob Wiblin, who once blogged here, says “If you want to save lives, should you study medicine? Probably not”:
Most people skilled enough to make it in a field as challenging as medicine could have a bigger social impact through an alternative career. The best research suggests that doctors do much less to improve the health of their patients than you might naturally expect. Health is more determined by lifestyle factors, and most of the treatments that work particularly well could be delivered with a smaller number of doctors than already work in the UK or USA. (more)
In contrast, 80,000 Hours is quite bullish on getting an Economics PhD.