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One of the smellier stories coming out of…

… some of America’s best schools of medicine in the last few years involves the painstaking, expensive training of doctors who almost immediately stop practicing and instead go for megabucks as investment managers. Why make half a million a year using the knowledge you’ve learned at Yale medical school to heal people, when you can make five million dollars a year doing trades and not get your hands dirty?

I mean, so what if you took a hotly contested seat in a Yale classroom — a seat hundreds of people actually dedicated to medicine tried to get and failed?

For instance: Chip Skowron, Yale MD and PhD, used a lot of taxpayer money to get himself all educated as a clinician/researcher and then said Fuck it. I’d rather be a hedgie.

Skowron put quite the spin on his decision in this 2003 Bloomberg article on doctors abandoning medicine for hedge funds:

Skowron said that during his residency, senior doctors complained about administrative burdens, declining pay and the strain of paying insurance premiums. “My current job allows me to look at the newest developments in oncology and to translate that into investment opportunities,” said Skowron, who manages health-care investments at Greenwich, Conn.-based FrontPoint Partners LLC, another hedge fund.

I guess I was little dim! Spent years and years in med school and grad school and it never occurred to me to discover the nature of the vocation for which I was training. Finally, in my residency, the horror of medical practice became apparent – the soullessness of paperwork, the growing impoverishment of physicians… I’ve gone from the meaninglessness, the shabbiness, of clinical medicine, to offering the world investment opportunities…


But you know what they say: No opportunities without risks. Medicine may have its drawbacks, but so does trading.

When FrontPoint Partners came to light on Tuesday as the unnamed hedge fund that federal authorities said had traded on inside information from a French doctor, so did the name of another doctor: Chip Skowron.

FrontPoint said late Tuesday that it had placed Dr. Skowron on leave indefinitely. The firm’s announcement follows the arrest of Yves Benhamou, the French doctor accused of tipping off an unnamed fund manager about setbacks in a clinical drug trial by Human Genome Sciences.

FrontPoint, which is being spun off by Morgan Stanley, would not elaborate beyond its statement. But the firm’s announcement of Dr. Skowron’s suspension provided an obvious No. 1 guess for anyone trying to figure out the identity of that mystery portfolio manager.

Margaret Soltan, November 2, 2010 10:56PM
Posted in: march of science, the university

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7 Responses to “One of the smellier stories coming out of…”

  1. DM Says:

    A common problem with France’s top engineering schools is that a significant share of the students want to go into finance. Maybe some of that is needed, but I suspect there is some excess,

  2. Mr Punch Says:

    Quantitative analysis has been even bigger (proportionally) in French finance than in the US, and engineers can do it. For a while there a whole lot of MIT grads were being recruited by Wall Street.

  3. Margaret Soltan Says:

    People have a right to change their minds about their advanced training — UD calls women who go all the way through fancy expensive law schools and then immediately marry a classmate and spend their lives raising kids and doing volunteer work Brain Geishas — but it’s the same principle in all of these examples: If you use all of that public and private money, and if you take up a seat someone serious about that vocation could have taken, the least you can do is repay your tuition to the university.

  4. DM Says:

    @MrPunch: Yes, and guess what? We’ve used taxpayer money to plug the financial holes created by these little geniuses whose studies were paid for by the taxpayer.

  5. Matt L Says:

    @ Dr. Skowron: jesus… thats just plain evil.

  6. Sarah Says:

    As you say: “If you use all of that public and private money, and if you take up a seat someone serious about that vocation could have taken, the least you can do is repay your tuition to the university.”
    Right on.
    Are there stats for medical school students defecting in this way?
    I do not have specific figures regarding just how many tax payer dollars fund medical education, but it is gi-normous. This is outrageous. Medical Schools should have policies addressing these issues.
    What a switch, medicine to hedge fund. Or maybe not. Our future doctors may want to heal, but most would also be driven by monetary gain I guess.
    He appears so transparently venal, though.


  7. Tony Says:

    I see Dr. Skowron also worked for Stanley A. Cohen and SAC Capital. That place is one laff riot after another.

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