T Nation

Financing a Medical Education


So...I'm going to be attending medical school in the fall and I just received my financial aid information packet tonight. I'm scared shitless. Thanks to some oddity of our education system there are very few scholarships available for medical school and any type of debt forgiveness program requires extended service in either the military or an under served community.

Anyone have any suggestions for sources of funding or advice on managing the debt so that I don't have to live with it the rest of my life? (I'm looking at 57k a year minimum)




There's really no way around the debt except to go the MD/Ph.D route. Becoming a doctor is no longer a good financial decision; doctors are considered social servants who need nothing more than a place to sleep in between 12 hour days of slaving away for the benefit of poor people. Thanks to Obama healthcare your income will be diminished as well.


If you were worried about fielding the debt from a Fine Arts degree in Gargoyle Statue Appreciation, I would completely understand your concern, but you're going to be a medical doctor. Its not like you'll be paying off your debt with an Arby's paycheck. How long is the student loan repayment period in Oregon? 10 years? 20?


Join the military.


Also if you are in high demand it's not unknown for a signing bonus to include student debt being paid off in full by the employer.

I'm not saying you can count on it, but it does happen.

But on the other hand you will now be becoming one of the "rich" or "fortunate" and so will be taxed at a higher rate, and since after all Government money is going towards how you get paid -- in one form or another -- perhaps it will be decided that a salary cap is called for. Or your employer will be prevented from charging free market prices and so perhaps will not be able to offer pay levels that the free or at least semi-free market has. So trying now to find any way to minimize the burden is a wise decision.


Move to Germany and go to school here. You don't even have to pay 1 grand per year.


http://forums.studentdoctor.net > financial aid forum


I know how you feel. I will be 200K+ in debt when I graduate. This is the main reason so many people are driven to pick a specialty that is well compensated (e.g., Radiology, Orthopedic surgery) instead of picking the specialty they really want. The average family practice physician makes about 160K and a radiologist about 360K. That 360K is very alluring when you are inundated with debt. That's the unfortunate reality of medical education today.

As for debt reduction options, you already mentioned the two primary ones, HPSP and serving under served communities. Other than that, unless you qualify for some type of hardship grants, scholarships, loans, or whatever, you will just have to bite the bullet with the debt. If you are considering HPSP, make sure you go here: http://forums.studentdoctor.net/forumdisplay.php?f=72 so you know what you're getting into.

I'm not sure about debt management, since I'm not that far along yet. Your residency will probably be the toughest period financially since you'll be making 40-50K. It's hard making only $12/hour especially if you have a family and trying to pay off student loans, but once your training is complete things will be much better. The FAP is available during residency, but that also requires service in the military like the HPSP.

Study hard, kick ass on the boards, and do work on your clinical rotations and you'll be fine. Good luck, don't lose hope :).



Actually the military will only pay for part of med school, like 100 grand. At least thats how it was when I looked into it four years ago.


Yeah, I'm going to be going to OHSU in the fall (unless Boston University accepts me from the wait list. I'm getting all but about 14k this year from stafford loands and I was wondering if anyone had suggestions of places to get a private loan that would be a better rate than the direct PLUS loan option? I guess on the positive side for me I've always wanted to become an orthopedic surgeon (far before I realized they were well compensated) but on the downside for the specialties with better pay also comes (generally) a longer residency period in which my loans would just grow more.

Financially speaking the military is an amazing option. A 1 to 1 service obligation, 2k a month stipend, commissioning as a captain at graduation but, from what I understand, they retain the right to dictate your specialty.

I am fortunate enough to have a little bit of money saved (~52k I received from a wrongful death suit over my mother and sister) so it may make financial sense to use that to pay the difference not covered by Stafford loans? I guess if worse comes to worse I can just go on a cutting phase and work as a stripper :slight_smile:


Yeah...and who needs that?!


An HPSP doctor trades his debt for his freedom. If your profession doesn't require a residency, that's one thing, but a doctor has to give four years of to the military for shit pay in addition to a residency of equal or greater length for even less. In the end, it's not necessarily a good tradeoff.


What? Whose freedom?

Thank you for the info...considering I was a doc in the military. We have residencies as well, they just aren't mandatory to carry a license. Also, the MD's on base were paid better than us due to special pay for their career. If they came in as officers, they received that pay plus the additional bonus every pay period.

My advice to the OP would be to speak to docs actually in the military or who have been previously instead of random people on the internet.


Can I be the first to recommend you sell your body?


For sex or for organs?

But seriously, just make sure you are 100% sure you want to do it because once you're in, you're in to the end.


The selling of the body or the selling of my soul (medical school)? I'm in and I'm sure. I've spent the last year working in the surgery department at a local hospital and I've gotten to know a lot of docs and have heard their thoughts (mostly negative) about being a doctor.

But most of them agree, if you're meant to do it all the negative shit is worth what you get to do for people. I truly believe that becoming a doctor is truly the best way to use my abilities to help others.


while on that topic...

were you ever required to fufill a command position, or were you strictly in a technical spot for the length of your career?


Well, your very first prudent decision would be to NOT consider Boston University over in-state tuition at OHSU


The reason to become a dcotr is to enjoy the work and the rewards. Helping others is just means to the end of helping yourself. Society has conconcted the perverted idea of the doctor as a servant and I hate to see that so many people in the profession actually subscribe to that philsophy. Do medicine because you love the content, not because you want to serve others.