September 21, 2011

Money matters (… or does it?)

Filed under: Med School and the MSTP — sanguinemare @ 10:09 am
Tags: , , , ,

One thing that we don’t have to worry about, as MSTP’s, is money.  It was one of the reasons I took a year off last year, so I could get a minimum wage job to see what it was like to have to work for and worry about money.  However, I don’t know if being so secure in my financial situation is a good thing.

As we go through school, and through conversations with peers, it’s obvious that most of the class, and most of the professors who are teaching the classes, are/have been on loans to get through med school.  Med school is not cheap.  For in-state residents, our school’s tuition costs a over $22,000 a year.  Add to that the cost of living expenses and fees/books/supplies, and you’re up to around $45,000/year.  And if you were out-of-state, like I am, the tuition itself is about $59,000.  Per year!  And that’s before interest!  That’s a pretty hefty amount. (Wow, I didn’t even realize the actual figures until I looked it up just now… that’s crazy.  Which exactly proves my point about us not having to worry about this.)

What all this means is that most medical students, excepting MSTP’s, people on military scholarships, or the uber rich, will be in at least $150,000-$200,000 in debt by the time they graduate medical school.  For out-0f-state-ers, the numbers are probably in the $240,000-$330,000 range!  No wonder people are talking about still being in debt 5 years out of residency.  Here’s a NY times article on the hidden costs of med school debt that one of my med school friends sent me at the beginning of school.

Inevitably, with so many resources being poured in just to be able to go to med school, one of the choices med students have to make when deciding residencies and careers is the question of money.  How am I going to pay back my loan?  Sometimes in class, this is clearly reflected in the questions we get for guest lecturers.  “Will insurance pay for that procedure?” “What is the reimbursement like?”  I often wonder about those people and think about all the stereotypes about people who go to med school only for the money, because these questions are things that are not even on the radar for me.  But then I catch myself and realize that I am probably one of few who have the luxury of not worrying about the next paycheck or how to pay back back my loans because I don’t have any.  Not many have the luxury of idealism that I do.  But is this a good thing to be able to have?

Sometimes I feel like it’s almost better to have to think about these tough questions, and to be pressed for money and time.  It seems people are more sure of what they want to do, or take school much more seriously because of it.  They study so hard and care a lot about the material (and some stress out significantly more…), and they are driven.  Motivated.  And for the most part, truly interested in what they are doing.  I, with all my financial worries taken care of, seem to be a little less focused, less driven, and very unsure about what I’m doing here or what I want to do with my life. 

Ah well.  I hope at least I’ve given a bit of perspective in the costs of medical school for you all.  Time to go back to class.


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