Monday, April 5, 2010

Medical School Debt

From the AMA:
Student debt statistics
*$156,456 – According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the average educational debt of indebted graduates of the class of 2009.
*79 percent of graduates have debt of at least $100,000.
*58 precent of graduates have debt of at least $150,000.
*87 percent of graduating medical students carry outstanding loans.
Source: AAMC 2009 Graduation Questionnaire

Why medical education debt has increased
Medical education debt is driven by rising tuition. AAMC data show that median private medical school tuition and fees increased by 50 percent (in real dollars) in the 20 years between 1984 and 2004. Median public medical school tuition and fees increased by 133 percent over the same time period. Other recent 20-year periods show similar trends.

Tuition is just one source of increasing debt burdens. Other causes include:

Interest accrued on loans over time significantly adds to the total cost of student debt.
Students are now entering medical school with more education debt from undergraduate education.
Increasing numbers of “non-traditional” students who have children to support.


Those are the numbers. The road to being a physician in this country is long and arduous enough. Factor in the absurd debt load one must take on to obtain that degree and it becomes very clear why many young docs are electing to pursue careers in the higher paying specialties. It's an unsustainable track.

We just passed Obamacare. 30 million uninsured people will have affordable health care. You won't get denied coverage for a pre-existing condition. But what are people supposed to do when they find out there aren't enough primary care doctors to handle the workload? The negligent attitude of Obamacare toward this forthcoming crisis is just astounding. So much political capital was expended throughout the year long battle. And to think it could all come crashing down because nothing was done about lessening the debt burden of medical school. Oh, and there's no tort reform either. And reimbursements are going to get cut. So who wants to sign up for medical school, kids? Anyone? Someone?
/crickets

21 comments:

Marshall said...

Taking the MCAT on May 27th. Screw my future financial prospects, I'm going to be a general surgeon if it bankrupts me.

Frank Drackman said...

2 Words...
"STATE SCHOOL" most states have one, and once you graduate noone really cares where you went to med school anyway, and if they do, just lie about it if your ashamed... and
I didn't pay a cent to go to Med School, they paid me...
or the Navy did, about $600/Month which was pretty good in 1984...
in addition to books/tuition.
Which was only about $5,000/yr back then, and you could get a pretty cool bachelor pad for $200/month...
Of course everyone said I was an Idiot, cause I'd have to go in the Navy, and get paid to ride in FA-18 Hornets...
I did take out a $10,000 NDSL loan, spent about $9,900 on Wine, Women, and a Suzuki GSXR 750...
the other $100 I wasted...
The Military's still giving out scholarships, can't give em away from what I here...

frank

Attorney Andy said...

Can we agree to elimination of law school debt in exchange for a little tort reform? With rising law school tuition and all of these damage caps on the horizon, how is a trial lawyer supposed to make ends meat?

Tom, MS-2 said...

Yup. I'm looking at about 250,000. My tuition alone next year will be 49K. For 4th year, it'll inevitably go up another 3K.

Can you believe I consider myself lucky that I'm at least getting out now? As these trends continue, you're looking at tuitions of 60K per year.

You're damn right. It's astounding the government doesn't want to do anything about this.

Frank Drackman said...

So who's holding the gun to your head??
Thats just a figure of speach, I apologize if someone really is holding a gun to your head and forcing you to go to Med School...
Good rule of thumb, don't go to any school where the tuitions more than you'll make as a resident.

Frank

Anonymous said...

the problem with the whole "smart people won't become doctors" argument is 18-21 year olds think much differently than a 40 something surgeon. the dramatiztion of the profession, the inherit altruism, the social cache, all of these things capture the hearts of sophmores in college.
There will always be smart pre-meds for the same reason there will continue to be smart classics or art history majors. People aren't always thinking about the 50 year plan.

It's much later (4th year of med school) that people are making cynical decisions and filling out their R.O.A.D to happiness applications. What a difference 4 years makes...

Buckeye Surgeon said...

Attorney Andy-
Law school tuition? I thought most lawyers just got on-line degrees for like $399.99 per semester. Just kidding . Sort of.

Anon 6:47pm-
Which "40 something" surgeon were you referring to???? I'm well short of that washed up, broken down threshold!

Anonymous said...

Plenty of people still want to go to medical school buckeye. Sorry to disappoint.

Yitz said...

Buckeye, that number is not realistic, it should be higher. Most private schools now cost about 40 to 50 thousand a year, plus living expenses. Even in a state school, 4 years of tuition and living expenses will get you close to that number. At my school, a lot of people are expecting to graduate with $300,000 in loans. Add the fact that interest rates are now fixed at 6.8% for Stafford and 8.5% for Grad PLUS (which you will probably need because Staffords are capped at about 30k/year) and you can't consolidate for 2-3% anymore.

Snoop said...

Medical school debt is a sickening issue. Really, the decision to become a doctor became significantly more stressful when I reviewed those financial packages and contemplated the future obligations. In the end, I decided to take Joseph Campbell's advice and "follow my bliss," but that doesn't mean I'm going down without a fight.
http://www.medicalstudentdebt.org/

Another colleague and I have worked a lot on this issue. We brought the issue to the national AMA assembly meeting this past year. I spoke personally last week with Dr. Rohack, president of the AMA to move the issue forward. This is a serious issue that we can't just pretend will go away.

Joseph Sucher, MD FACS said...

I'm sorry, maybe I missed something since I'm sitting in a tent in the middle of Afghanistan... but you did have a very pro post for Obamacare entitled "I'm Sold" on March 17th.

Now the AMA (who supported Obamacare) comes out with the numbers that everyone in the US is already painfully aware. Not to mention that it also costs money to go to college before you go to medical school.. hmmmph. I think that you can easily double this figure.

But nonetheless... change has passed.. because that's all we need is CHANGE.

JFS
FaST Surgeon

Frank Drackman said...

So Dr. Sucher,
could you let us know exactly where Bin Ladens keeping you Hostage???? Would make it easier to send the Seals to rescue you...
Seriously, thank you for your service to our country.
And Med Schools one of the few remnants of Free Enterprise left in this increasingly Islamic dictatorship. If there werent 10 people fighting for every $80,000/yr med school spot they couldn't charge so much...
and whens the last time anyone askd where you went to med school???

Keep your head low and dont waterboard anyone, at least if anyones watching,

Frank

Buckeye Surgeon said...

Yitz- Those numbers are frightening.

Joe-
First off, stay out of harm's way over there. Second, from an objective standpoint, I am supportive of Obamacare for the reasons I wrote about in the post. From the partisan perspective of a practicng surgeon, though, I find it to be less than endearing. And for the AMA to publish this sort of data after the fact is just ludicrous. I mean, THIS WAS THE SORT OF DATA THEY OUGHT TO HAVE BEEN USING TO LOBBY ON OUR BEHALF ALL 2009! Again, the AMA is a joke.

Tom, MS-2 said...

Frank, even at a state school with in-state tuition you're looking at least 100-150K in debt on tuition alone. Furthermore, we wouldn't be able to support the need for doctors in this country if everybody went to a state school or enrolled in the military. Those ideas are ridiculous, naive, and avoid the issue at hand.

Frank Drackman said...

Tom,
tried to help you out dude, if you get your jollies goin hundreds of thousands into debt, good on ya...
Ran the numbers for Medical College of Georgia...youre right, comes to around $80K...still alot less than the $150K Emory charges...
So why DO you Saps wanta be doctors??? And don't tell me you want to help people...

Frank

Anonymous said...

Your post is sad but true. I am a 1st year med student and have shadowed private practice family medicine docs who make 60k a year. Even if I wanted to go into family med, there is no way that I could afford to with my more than 250k projected debt (plus interest!). It is almost like primary care is not a feasible option anymore.

Snoop said...

Frightening as the numbers are now, they look pretty good when you compare them to 20 years down the road. My university's board just approved the annual 4.9% increase in tuition. If the national trend over the past decade remains the same, students will graduate with $850,000 in the hole.

Tom, MS-2 said...

I think I went into it in order to help people and make a "difference" in people's lives and my community.

Now that I'm in the thick of it, I think it's the challenge that drives me more than anything.

J. said...

Buckeye,

Woot!

DocV said...

Two words- Dental School! ;-)

tom said...

Atty Andy..make ends MEAT! Yikes are you a litigator?

With respect to Obama care-We have not passed health care reform-we have passed health insurance reform. Read as Medi-Caid for all. Try finding a doctor in California that takes Medi-Caid

If I like my doctor I can keep him/her.. What if my employer drops the insurance that provides that doctor? Or what if my doctor says... I quit..see you on the slopes.

how do you provide care for more people and spend less $...Oh so simple..cut fees or do less or both. I don't remember that promise--And if you vote for me I will cut your fees. If you enjoy wating months to see a specialtist, vote for me.

Access to care has not been improved as a result of Obama care.

What has happened is the eyes of many have been opened to the political orientation of
AMA
AARP