“My personal experiences highlight the magnitude of the problem. Upon graduation from medical school in 2013, I owed approximately $180,000 in student debt — what might seem an outrageously high number that is actually about $10,000 less than the average for today’s medical school graduates. I scrounged and saved during residency, living in a tiny Chinatown apartment, riding my bicycle to work every day, and sneaking expired patient sandwiches for lunch so that I could make my monthly $700 debt payment. Yet upon completing residency, the amount I owed had, to my disbelief, increased to $188,000 — all my efforts had not been enough to cover even the interest accumulating on my loans.”
What you just read was an excerpt from the New York Times article written by Farzon Nahvi, an Emergency medicine physician who, recently graduated out of medical school. Can you imagine having to starve yourself, eat expired lunches so that the $700-$1000 you pay every month for 3 years…. ONLY TO SEE YOUR DEBT GO HIGHER? This is the reality of medical school today and the problematic loan repayment system created by the banks. Make no mistake, becoming a physician is one of the most rewarding purpose a man or woman can have in this world, and instead of incentivizing them, we are hurting their reality. This is the case for almost every medical student, who is also a human, and has human desires. Many want to travel, get married, afford some degree of luxury after arduously working and studying for 14 years of their young life! Unfortunately, with the rise of compounded interest rates, individuals are finding it more and more difficult to make ends meet in their early years of medicine.
As a result of these high debt ratios, another key problem exists as a domino effect. More and more young physicians are trying to avoid lower paying specialties like pediatrics, psychiatry and even family medicine because they cannot make ends meet. America has a huge PCP shortage, and while this is true, most individuals flock to cardiology or other upper tier majors that already have a surplus. Just to put matters into perspective, The National Rural Health Association estimates a shortage of 45,000 doctors by 2020! So… remind me why… we dont… incentivize them??
Doctors are flocking towards higher-end specialties, and in many cases some doctors aren’t matching into these higher paying specialties, and therefore are struggling to pay their debt, and in turn struggling to get a real start on their lives. So what do those doctors do, at age 32-24, when their debt doesn’t match their earnings? Each person is a human being, and rightfully so, feel the need to indulge in a lifestyle that makes them happy. But when our borrowing terms and this rigged, why would future prospects want to enter medicine for the much needed, yet, lower paying specialties?
Here is a link to Farzon. A. Nahvi’s article at the New York Times