While physicians in the United States are among the highest paid in the world, the path to actually becoming a medical professional can be incredibly costly.
The average American medical student graduates with over a quarter of a million dollars in student debt, and when they land a residency, the pay may not always be enough to meet their living expenses and debt obligations.
This was recently noted by TikTok users Dr. Brandon Kalasho and Dr. Secilia Salem (@marriedinmedicine), two medical residents who live in Los Angeles.
In a video with over 52,000 views, the couple can be seen going through an In-N-Out drive-thru. In the window is a sign advertising their hiring wages: starting at $19.75 per hour and going up to $23.25 per hour.
“When residency pays less than In-N-Out, so you’re considering other options,” the couple writes in the text overlaying the video.
In the caption, they added, “But we do it for the patients.”
@marriedinmedicine But we do it for the patients 🤗 #innoutburger #residency #doctor #doctorsoftiktok #medicina #medicine #medical #nurse #nursesoftiktok ♬ IT MUST BE NICEE – TOONKYY
With a full-time 40-hour work week, a first-time In-N-Out employee can earn over $41,000 per year at that location’s pay rates, provided they do not take any days off. This is significantly lower than the average salary of medical residents, which is around $60,000 annually, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.
However, these numbers don’t tell the full story. Medical residents must contend with the aforementioned student debt. Furthermore, medical residents can work up to 80 hours in some weeks, meaning it’s entirely possible that their hourly take-home pay is less than the pay offered by In-N-Out.
In the comments of the TikTokers’ video, users told their own stories of low post-school pay—and high pay for workers in other professions.
“I just graduated mortuary college and as an intern I’m making way less too,” said a commenter. “I almost want to cry when I go to inn and out on my lunch break.”
“My In N Out Manager drove a Mercedes and a Lexus,” claimed another. “He also had 7 kids and was able to afford his wife being a stay at home mom.”
That said, some said the In-N-Out pay wasn’t as good as it looked.
“Worked at in n out my issue was not having enough hours which is why I quit,” recalled a user.
“Unless you want to only have a maximum of 30 hours a week don’t do it,” stated a second.
Other commenters told the TikTokers to stay strong.
“Hang in there,” advised a user. “eventually you guys will be making a crazy amount of money.”
The Daily Dot reached out to the TikTokers via email.