The transition to medical school is important in several ways. The sticker shock of this transition is one of the significant mental weights of beginning the journey to becoming a doctor, given that the typical medical student graduates with $200,000 in medical student loan debt.
The financial reality can be especially shocking for medical students from historically marginalized racial and ethnic groups who represent the first members of their family to attend medical school. An AMA Medical Student Section training session recorded for the 2022 AMA Annual Meeting examined the financial challenges these medical students face and how they can work to overcome them.
Most medical students will borrow large sums to finance their studies. According to Kabir Grewel, a third-year medical student at Florida State University (FSU) College of Medicine, this can work against the education of some students.
Among “many cultures and other nationalities — and especially among first-generation college students — debt is seen as a very bad thing, and sometimes a predatory thing,” said Grewal, president of an organization at FSU. which educates medical students on financial literacy. and health care economics.
“Some religions and some cultures view debt as something to be avoided at all costs, and that sort of thing is completely at odds with how most students can go to medical school,” Grewal added during of the training session. “So I think it’s important to remember that any kind of debt you take on is an investment in your own education, in your own future, your career and your earning potential as well.”
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In all likelihood, you will earn enough as a practicing physician to pay off your medical student loan debt. According to Michael Sweeney, MD, knowing and staying conservative with your finances can offer some light at the end of the tunnel. He is an associate professor of clinical sciences, teaching clinical skills, diagnosis, pathophysiology, and anatomy at FSU.
“Don’t panic about the debt. Panic is the worst thing you can do because often we have students who don’t even know how much they owe or who they owe it to,’ said Dr Sweeney, who also has a teaching role at the school. of Commerce of the FSU. “And if you approach it that way, kind of a head-in-the-sand technique, the debt is going to skyrocket.”
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Even when you earn a higher salary after completing your residency or postgraduate training, the advice often given to young doctors is to live like a resident and stick to a budget.
“Budget now,” Grewal said. “Get into the habit of making a financial plan: how much you will borrow, how much you will spend and on what. Keep it up, and once you start making money, allocate a fixed amount that you budget to pay off the loans, and really pay yourself first. When I say “pay yourself”, I basically mean paying the debt. If the debt is cleared, pay off your investments and savings before allocating money to other things. If you stick with that, you should be golden financially.
Explore the AMA’s efforts to diversify the medical workforce and read the AMA’s strategic plan to embed racial justice and advance health equity.