Neurosurgeon is a good job. It’s such a good, respected, awe-inspiring gig that it’s a cliche: you think I’m gonna solve that problem — what am I, a brain surgeon? Neurosurgeon pays handsomely too (median salary $355K), with the top 10% making $720,000 or more. GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson is a retired neurosurgeon. But why isn’t Ben Carson, at just 63 years old, an active neurosurgeon?
Well it wasn’t because he wasn’t good at it. Carson was among the most accomplished neurosurgeons of his era, most famous for successfully leading a 70-member surgical team in a 22-hour surgery to separate conjoined twins in 1987. Carson was the director of pediatric neurosurgery at prestigious Johns Hopkins and has written numerous books. But Carson wasn’t chiefly a teacher and administrator like many who reach the upper echelons; he remained an active surgeon. Carson has said his hand–eye coordination and three-dimensional reasoning set him apart as a surgeon. (Only the latter will be much help in the Oval Office.) Carson retired in 2013 not because he wasn’t performing well, but because he wished to retire while “still at the top of [his] game.”