I made the mistake recently of estimating how much debt I will have when I graduate from medical school. Once I crunched the numbers (repeating a couple times just to be sure), I looked at the sum and had one thought- seriously?
So… the number was about $250,000. This was not surprising. I had a vague idea I would owe this much. But after really making the effort to estimate that number it became much more real to me.
That sort of debt is difficult to conceptualize. Right now the numbers are just numbers. I see them, and they register in my brain, but what do they really mean? What does six figures in debt mean for me?
Right now my debt has very little impact on my life. The numbers are worrisome but I do not have to worry about paying anything now or in the near future. The only way it interferes with my life is if I think about it. And then it makes me a little anxious.
Why the anxiety? Because even with a salary that puts me in the top 5% of wage earners in the United States, $250,000 in debt will take a long time to pay back.
That debt hanging over me as I think about my future work as a physician feels like a burden, like a lack of freedom. Let’s say an opportunity presents itself to work three months internationally. Will I have to pass it up because I won’t be able to afford the loan payments while I travel?
Will this debt influence my specialty decision? Because it is very much a reality that making twice as much means I can pay off my debt twice as quickly. Is it crazy to consider this when choosing the type of medicine I want to practice?
What does it mean for medical students and medicine in general? How will other students act facing the same situation?
Unfortunately, I don’t have the answers to these questions. What do you think?
In small group the other day we were discussing lupus (aka Systemic Lupus Erythematosus) and the physician leading the group started listing off all the ways the disease can affect the body. He concluded by saying,
“Basically, if you understand lupus, you understand medicine.”
So there you go.
Which obviously reminds me of this:
Apparently in the real world, sometimes it is lupus.
P.S. What’s going to happen if you click the Wikipedia links Jan 18.
Wow, that went by so fast.
Writing went by the wayside this semester as I became bogged down in difficult courses. And I was so motivated at the beginning! The best laid plans…
Anyway, I wanted to write a brief overview of the semester to give you all a taste of what to expect in the second year of med school.
In general, the course difficulty shot up a notch or two. This actually started late last year when we started with our systems courses, the first being Neuroscience. This last semester included Infectious Disease, Hematology-Oncology, Cardiovascular, Behavioral Medicine and Respiratory.
Cardio and Hem-Onc were the hardest for me, although Infectious Disease was a rough way to start the year. Cardio physiology was brutal and will definitely be an area of focus for me as I think about Step 1.
Agh, Step 1. It’s like an evil shadow always lurking in the back of your brain. While very few of my fellow students have actually started studying for it officially, it is a topic that seems to come up in conversation often. And it is always there when you’re studying. Countless times I have considered glossing over something I didn’t really want to put the time into when the thought that I could be missing an opportunity to master something for Step 1 enters my head. This usually motivates me to push on.
Clinic was a welcome relief from the monotony of lectures. I am looking forward to continuing that and honing my physical exam and interviewing skills.
Overall, the semester was a success. I passed all the courses. I feel refreshed after winter break. While posting on this site has trailed off, I actually have a several posts that just need finishing touches. So expect some fresh material!
Wishing you all the best this New Year!