Medical School Debt Burdens

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Tuition and Student Cost-of-Living Expenses


[By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™]

According to the New York Times, December 19, 2008, almost one-quarter of U.S. medical students now graduate from medical school with $200,000 or more in debt. And, according to New England Journal of Medicine [NEJM], this is an expense that limits entry to the profession.

Median Costs

The median cost of attending a year of medical school, including all fees, is now $62,243 at private schools and $44,390 for state residents at public schools. Most of the $2.5 billion in financial assistance available to medical students comes in the form of non-subsidized loans, while few top schools have the resources to discount tuition for students from lower-income families. The steep costs may discourage low-income students from going to medical school, and sway graduates toward higher-earning specialties like radiology, surgery, invasive cardiology and gastroenterology; and away from lower-paying ones like primary care; well-know for sparse compensation and long hours [thinker versus doer].


By way of comparison, while at Temple University in the late 1970’s, my annual tuition and lodging was in the $5,500 – $8,500 range. I was a bachelor without a vehicle, who shared a single room above an antique store on Pine Street, and worked part-time at Pennsylvania Hospital. I graduated debt-free. This frugality enabled me to take prime, but low paying internship, residency and fellowship programs which proved an excellent long-term decision.


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5 Responses

  1. Dr. Marcinko,

    As a new medical student, I just read this article, and could not agree more with it. Here is the intro:

    “It’s not surprising that you didn’t realize what you were getting into with your student loan. You were just barely out of your teen years when you signed the paperwork. If you’re like most people, you probably had little understanding of what it means to incur debt and were lulled into a false sense of security with the knowledge that payments will be deferred for years to come. The language can throw you too. What’s the difference between a subsidized and an unsubsidized loan? What about federal v.s. private loans; and so on? This lack of understanding can make you the victim of predatory interest rates from private student loan providers. But walking away from your student loan isn’t the same thing as walking away from your home loans. You’d better be aware of the consequences before you decide not to pay”.


    I think my financial advisor got it all wrong for me. So, I now urge all ME-P members to read the rest of this link and decide for yourself. Forget about conventional wisdom, and Good Luck!



  2. Obamacare Could Lead to Shortening Medical School to 3 Years

    The 48 million Americans currently lacking health insurance will have a chance to sign up for medical coverage once Obamacare goes into effect. But, will there be enough doctors to care for them?

    One study predicts a shortage of 45,000 primary care physicians in just seven years. And, at least three medical schools are shaving off a full-year of their degree programs to get primary care physicians into the workforce sooner.

    Dr. Robert Lahita, Chair of Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, told Jansing & Co., “It’s not a bad idea because the four-year school idea goes back to the turn of the last century, when Flexner said we should have, as the European system did, two years of basic science, two years of clinical science.”

    He said that the necessary training could be packed into three years by eliminating vacation time, concentrating on primary care, adding clinical training into the second and third years, and eliminating some electives.

    Source: Emily DeCiccio, MSNBC [9/27/13]


  3. Should a Medical Degree be Reduced to Three Years?

    A November 2013 New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) editorial entitled, “Are We in a Medical Education Bubble Market?” states, “we just have to recognize that the high costs of medical education are sustainable only if we keep paying doctors a lot of money, and there are strong signs that we can’t or won’t.”

    Government is attempting to respond to lower reimbursements for physician services by reducing the cost of education by way of reducing the time it takes to earn a medical degree. New legislation introduced last week would allow graduates at accredited medical school programs in California to become doctors in three years.



  4. Dental student debts

    “Survey: Average dental student loan debt tops $215K – September 2, 2014

    The American Dental Education Association (ADEA) 2013 survey of seniors graduating from U.S. dental schools found that the average educational debt (college and dental school combined) reported by the students surveyed totaled more than $215,000 — about 10% more than the class of 2012 reported (Journal of Dental Education, August 2014, Vol. 78:8, pp. 1214-1236).”

    [By DrBicuspid Staff]

    Darrell K. Pruitt DDS


  5. What 5 states have the fewest physicians per capita?

    Top 5 States with Fewest Physicians per Capita

    1. Mississippi
    2. Idaho
    3. Wyoming
    4. Nevada
    5. Arkansas

    Source: Wallet Hub


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