I’m sitting here surrounded by sticky notes, notes that have blog topics ideas scribbled all over them, but I don’t want to write about those topics right now.
Instead, I want to write about something that I’ve been wanting to share for quite some time.
It’s one of those posts where I’m not really sure how everyone will respond, but I’m taking a risk and publishing it anyway because talking about this topic, which is medical school and the true cost of becoming a doctor, is really important to me.
Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars
Over $42,000. For one semester. That’s what we just took out. One click of a button and the hubs paid for his 5th and final term on this island. It really doesn’t matter that I have a well paying full time job. It doesn’t matter that this blog brought in more income than that job in June and July. Because I definitely can’t afford a $42,000 semester and neither can the vast majority of our friends who are also medical school students. What choice do we have but to take out unsubsidized loans that have over 6% interest rates? It just has to be done.
Is It Worth It?
If you really want to see people who have an intense passion for what they do, come to our campus at 11 p.m. any night of the week. It’s filled with hundreds of students working their asses off, harder than most of us will ever work in our lifetimes. These people are smart enough to do any job they want.
They could have started their own companies and made millions more than they would as physicians, but they chose this life. Night after night. 15-18 hours a day. And they don’t stop. They literally. don’t. stop. It’s the most amazing thing to watch.
And for the record, these are some of the most caring, intense people you will ever come across. The media tries to to cast physicians in a certain light (and of course there are bad apples in every profession) but the students I know are here for one purpose only, and that’s to learn how to help other people. If they wanted to make a lot of money, trust me when I say they are smart enough to know that there are better ways to go about it. (Seriously, some of them are freaky smart in a way I can’t even convey.)
Luckily, I can honestly say that every minute of this journey has been worth it. My tears. The hubs’ tears. (Yes, I challenge you to find one male medical school student who hasn’t been brought to tears by the stress and the magnitude of it all.) But we do it anyway.
We gave up so much: Time together. Time with our families. Those precious first few years of marriage when it’s just us without kids. And yet, if I had to choose, I’d choose this path all over again because it’s what the hubs was meant to do.
You know how I get sparkly about the blog and get all pumped and excited about it? Well, that’s how the hubs is about medicine. The dude loves it. It’s his passion. And passions are worth pursuing.
The World’s Perception
What is perhaps most disconcerting about this whole thing is the world’s perception of American physicians. And, if there is one message I hope this blog can get across, it’s how excruciatingly difficult this process is both for the physician and their family and how financially, this generation of physicians will not be as well off as everyone might think.
For one, we are missing about 15 years of investment time. In fact, when we were deciding whether or not to come to Grenada for medical school, we actually calculated out what the hubs’ 401k would be if he stayed in his current job with his company match. Had he stayed at his job, he would have probably had a bigger retirement fund than we would now. That’s pretty serious! And yet, we chose this path instead.
I once wrote a blog post for another website about a similar topic, and I was trying to get across this idea that physicians might not be as wealthy as other people think. Instead of reading the post thoroughly, one commenter said, “Well my friend’s an ER doctor. He makes 200k a year, has a really nice house, and takes vacations all the time. He doesn’t seem to be hurting too much to me.”
That is exactly the type of short sighted comment that fails to recognize the economic changes that have recently taken place. This commenter’s ER doctor friend likely had subsidized loans, and just a few years ago, those loans were at 2-4% not 6+%. This makes a huge difference in the way the current medical generation will approach their debt and the amount of years that it will take us to pay it back.
Besides, even if that ER physician isn’t hurting now, I can promise you that he had many rough nights over many, many years of training to be able to do what he does now. You can’t get that time back, and in my admittedly biased opinion, any six figure income that comes after that level of training is certainly deserved.
Off My Soapbox
I’ll get off my soapbox now, and I truly hope that this post does not diminish the hard work that everyone else does. God knows there are many of us that have intense jobs and had to go through a lot of education to get there. This is just me sharing a very personal, insider perspective amidst a changing healthcare system and an uncertain future.
I hope we do have a nice life, I really do. I think the two of us have worked hard for a nice life, and I hope we are able to send our children to excellent schools and on incredible adventures so they can learn about the world. However, it will take many more years of sacrifice, careful planning, intense loan repayment, and self-control to be able to get to that financial point. It’s not going to be this guaranteed thing simply because the hubs chose a specific profession.
I’d love to know your thoughts, and as always, please be respectful in your comments.