Tell me about med school debt and the importance of med school prestige!
February 14, 2014 9:37 AM Subscribe
I'm potentially interested in going to medical school. I have been doing research online, and have lots of questions about this prospect, but I want to limit it to two interrelated questions today.
posted by ClaireBear to Education (22 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
1. My first question concerns med school debt. Looking at the figures, if I were to go to one of my state's med schools and get no scholarship or financial aid (which looks likely), I would be between $200,000-$270,000 in debt by the time I finished (my state appears to have one of the most expensive in-state med school tuitions, alas). I realize that new changes mean that interest begins compounding from the beginning, and I wouldn't be able to begin making substantial paybacks until I finished my residency/fellowship. I am currently in my late twenties and finishing my PhD, and anticipate being in my mid-30s (maybe 35-36) by the time I would finish med school. (A complicating factor is that I would also like to have children, and I realize children are also very expensive. If I were a decade younger and starting this whole enterprise I wouldn't be worried, but obviously the timing is rather tight and unideal here.) I'm interested in a specialty that I believe pays mid-range ($200,000-250,000), although I realize that interests can change during the 3rd year rotations. Leaving aside the question of whether to have children in med school and/or residency, and focusing solely on the financial aspects, how long would it take a very motivated and frugal newly-minted doctor to pay off a large ($200,000-300,000) loan, assuming a salary around $200,000 but no second income from a spouse/partner, and possibly children? It seems like it would be doable in maybe 3 years if one were to live extremely frugally (something I am very good at doing, having been a grad student forever); however I hear online stories of people taking 10-25 years to pay it off! Assuming one were successful in living very frugally (and obviously it varies by cost of living, etc.), does something like 3 years sound doable? Are there any/many doctors who find themselves unemployed after residency and/or can't pay off their loans (like lawyers)?
2. Somewhat relatedly, I'm also interested in the importance of choosing a prestigious medical school. I have heard multiple doctors/medical professors say that med school prestige isn't such a big deal, and that you should just choose a med school based on which is the cheapest and/or the best fit. In my experience with academia, prestige is very much the currency that it runs on, and one is generally advised to choose the most prestigious university/program/advisor possible in order to maximize the chances of a job at the end of it. Is this not true with medicine? Is there much disadvantage to going to your state med school versus going to, say, an Ivy League med school? Would this advantage primarily surface when trying to match into a good residency, or does it linger when competing for jobs? How much does a good residency matter, anyway, in terms of getting a job? And if you just pass and don't get an A or honors, is there much of a risk of not matching into a residency if you aren't at a "prestigious" med school? At this point, I'm interested in something that would require a fellowship after residency - does that change things? Is the material/grading/etc. at all med schools basically the same, or is it harder (or easier) at a more prestigious school? Is the latter something worth paying more for (if I could even get in, of course!)? Personally, I am very cured of chasing academic prestige after my experience in academia, but if it's important to go after here then that would be useful to know.
I'd love to hear any thoughts about any of this! Thanks.