Med Student Gives Sober Assessment Of Future With $500K In Student Debt

Jan 30 2014, 9:37pm CST | by

The path to becoming a physician is intentionally rigorous in every possible way. It is technically, physically and financially grueling for at least 7 years (often more) after the first Bachelor’s degree.

Like every other aspect of our wheezing healthcare system, the financial burdens on med students are reaching their own level of saturation. In 2012, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke testified before Congress that his own son will complete his formal medical training with $400,000 in loans.

The median four-year cost to attend medical school – which includes outlays like living expenses and books – for the class of 2013 is $278,455 at private schools and $207,868 at public ones, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, a nonprofit group of U.S. schools. Medical School at $278,000 Means Even Bernanke Son Has Debt – Janet Lorin, Bloomberg Article – April 11, 2013 (here)

Yesterday, Dr. Wes (as he is known online) posted an article to his long running personal blog that included this quote.

In the past five years, the world of medicine has forever changed for everyone, except medical schools it seems.  Their costs and expectations for revenue continues to exceed inflation by a large margin.  When will it stop?  For our newest trained doctors increasingly saddled with nearly insurmountable debt, the lure of medicine is waning. For those already in the pipeline,  the reality of what’s coming when the loan bills come due is inevitably going to be turning our best new hope for medicine’s future away unless the cost problem is fixed soon. For Medical Students, It Seems Nothing’s Changed, Westby G. Fisher, MD, FACC (a board certified internist, cardiologist, and cardiac electrophysiologist – here).

The first response was from a 3rd year med student who gave this anonymous  and very sober assessment.

Anonymous said…

third year student, already over 300K in debt, will hit lifetime Stafford amount next year which means most of 4th year will be grad plus loans at higher rates. nothing is subsidized for grad students anymore so the debt grows exponentially. My spouse is also in medicine, and while in a little better shape than I, in a year and a half we will begin life making a combined ~100K with ~500K in debt before we’ve bought a house, had a kid, put a dime towards retirement, or traded in our POS cars. My family and friends already assume we’re rich, and if they have anything at all to say about finances and medicine, it’s that doctors make too much money. 

Treated like scum for years of training, put life on hold for 10 years, and at the end of it spend half your day documenting complete garbage and being told how you will and will not practice by people who have no idea what they’re talking about. The sad but true reality for me is if I could go back and do it again, I wouldn’t go into medicine. I still love the patients and the puzzles, but on the whole it’s becoming a tough sell. Hopefully it seems worth it when all is said and done, but hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel right now. 

And you are correct, nobody at all cares.

Anonymous replies are always suspect of course  but sometimes they can offer an insight that really does transcend their anonymity. The reply could be fake. I doubt it.

For much of 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 we’ve argued, fussed and fought over who should get access to our often heralded healthcare system. But hasn’t the time come to look more holistically at the system we’ve built and build something better? Not just for patients – which is really all of us at some point  but for those on the very front lines of trying to save our lives. They don’t always succeed and I am openly critical of the system they are forced to grapple with daily. But the challenge is this. If we’re not careful on this exact issue  we’ll turn around one day and they just won’t be there. Whatever else we can or can’t afford, we really can’t afford that.

Source: Forbes Business

 
 

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