Further follow up from the last post is needed since there were some interesting comments about debt. I don’t think that the public is aware of the amount of money that medical education requires, how it increases regularly, and the overall push by the current administration to decrease or eliminate certain loans for this type of education.
The amount of debt you have varies based on several factors, but some of the more common include whether you’re in a state or private school (private usually being more expensive), if you have a family or are single, if you’ve been able to save prior to med school or have family that’s helping out, and if you’re married to another medical student. Being at a private school my tuition is 2-3 times higher than some state schools and therefore my amount of debt is that much higher as well. The average of $150,000 is based on all these factors, government incentive programs, and does not clearly account for many medical students.
Take me as an example: I have a family, attend a private school, and have only been able to qualify for a few small scholarships that are sometimes shared amongst several medical students (political reasons are mostly to blame for my pitiful scholarship awards). My tuition has ranged from $35,000 to $45,000 over the last 4 years and I have to max out on loans in order to be able to support my family.
My wife’s income has helped, but we ran out of our savings quickly in the first year and have to rely on my refunds at this point to pay rent, bills and put food on the table - all of which totals my overall loans out to about $55,000 on average per year. Now, multiply that by 4, add in some undergrad debt, and you can see how I’m looking at about a quarter of a million in student debt which doesn’t include mortgages, car payments, or other financial strains - like credit cards.
Many people aren’t aware of these astronomical burdens carried by new physicians, often deferred through residency (since you’re making like $8-9/hr), with increases each time your interest is capitalized. Many people in the healthcare industry don’t realize these costs either - since I’ve heard nurses call residents “overpaid”.
Once you leave residency this places a tremendous burden on your shoulders and has become a main reason many medical students are staying away from primary care. You can’t make enough to pay these bills, your overhead, and yourself anymore. After all of this sacrifice there is a need, completely understandable and quite appropriate, to be compensated adequately. But the idea of docs being rich right out of the starting gate is really just not true. I'd also bet that there are a lot of physicians out there that have been in practice for some time and still barely scrape enough together to have a decent lifestyle - probably primary docs mostly.