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c o m Pa s s P o i n t s
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and $22,200 in living expenses is also factored in. In all, a 2017
medical student is paying about $84,557.00/year.
Ok, that's fine, but what about in 2035 when Connor starts?
Well, using the same formula of compounding the current tuition by
5% and cost of living at 3% over 18 years, my aspiring doctor will
start his first year of medical school at about $185,365.12/year.
When he finally earns the right to be called Dr. Huckleberry, he
will have a grand total of about $793,401 in college loans from just
When he finishes his residency and starts Huckleberry Eye Care,
he will have accrued $1,343,921.84 in college debt.
Of course, this number will only further explode once you factor
in his not-yet-discussed student loans. Assuming he is lucky and
all his loans average around a 4% annual interest rate for a 20-year
payback length, Connor's total consolidated loan payback could be
Paying for the Learjet he will never fly
It's important to state that these numbers are by no means
beyond the scope of error and I do not possess a crystal ball to draw
some unequivocal data to support my estimates.
Of course, I picked two very good schools that are extremely
competitive and are at the higher end of the tuition scale. Certainly
these are not the only options students have and there are many
wonderful schools that also have a lower price tag as well. And again
it is worth noting, these numbers would certainly go down with any
grants, scholarships or financial aid packages made available.
However, even with a generous financial aid package, the figures
are still alarming, and if the rates of tuition increases remain as they
are, these numbers could very well represent the debt load the future
of medicine will face.
To put this situation in medical terms, this problem is systemic.
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges
(AAMC), 84% of medical school graduates are averaging over
$176,348 in debt. In 2011, it was averaged at $160,000.
Furthermore, ten years ago the Association of America Medical
Colleges reported that, from 1994 to 2004, medical school tuition
and fees increased by 165% in private schools and 312% in public
When I was looking at colleges and tuitions, I remember my
guidance counselor likening my student debt to paying for a car that
I will never drive. For current medical students, it seems that they are
paying for homes they will never live in...and in Connor's case, he
will be paying for a Learjet he will never fly!
My Last Rant
Our feature article Behind the Curtain of Medical School Debt
will provide you all an illustration of the long-sweeping effects this
debt load could have on the medical community as a whole. It will
also address what Pennsylvania is doing now to combat this matter. I
encourage you all to read it.
But before you turn the page, I would like to leave you with this.
I grew up the proud son of a mother who worked multiple jobs to
keep our family comfortable. The individual that inspired me the
most was my grandfather, a veteran of World War II and a self-made
man - he owned our local gas station. I was raised with food on my
plate and an unwavering awareness that with hard work, I could be
whatever I wanted to be.
Now, my wife can attest that I worry very little about things
I cannot control, but the very thought of my children failing to
achieve what they want out of life because of sheer economics
frightens me. For me, failure due to lack of merit or talent is not only
acceptable, it's noble, it's American. Choosing the life of a physician
means that you take on extra risks and sacrifices. That is why the title
of Doctor is earned, not acquired.
As a community, we need our young and bright minds to take
these risks and accept these sacrifices to further the art and science of
medicine. But with the student debt spiraling towards the ridiculous,
could this be too much to ask of them? How many potential
physicians could we stand to lose?
I can only hope that when Connor finally settles on his chosen
profession, Physician, knight, stop sign, whatever, he can do so
with certainty that he will achieve his standings on his own merit
and not because he could or could not afford the necessary training
and preparation. In the meantime, I salute all parents of physicians,
who at one point sat down and crunched some numbers and said,
"$33,000 for medical school? How the #$%$ can anyone afford
this?" and still supported their child anyway.
Also to my BCMS Executive Council: it's never too late to talk about
my next raise. My two-year-old, Nolan, is fascinated with ears and
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