With the demand for qualified medical professionals at an all-time high, it seems like becoming a doctor would be a wise career decision. Before you rush out and sign those med school papers, however, consider the path you are about to take.
You are about to embark upon one of the most arduous, intellectually and emotionally demanding fields of study, not to mention one of the most expensive. The average medical school graduate leaves school with an estimated $200,000 in loans that need to be repaid. Given that enormous debt load, it is necessary to consider both the risks and rewards of becoming a doctor.
Being A Doctor Is Time Consuming
Not only will becoming a doctor cost you money, it will cost you a considerable amount of time. Being a doctor and providing medical care is not a nine to five job; doctors work long, irregular hours and often have to serve periods of time “on-call”, where they need to be at the disposal of their affiliated hospitals or clinics. Their time is not their own, and their profession is life-giving, so this service is to be taken seriously. If you enter the field knowing this and accepting that fact about your chosen career, you are far more likely to stay with it for the long haul.
Good Medical Education Is Expensive
With the average median debt load for medical school grads being between $170,000 and $200,000 upon graduation, it is necessary for doctors to be able to factor in repayment was part of their career path, because it’s very expensive when you add in housing, food, books, and other expenses. The added stress of financial concerns coupled with the high demands of this type of work is not a recipe for physical and emotional wellness. Knowing that this type of work is important to you, and being able to plan for your financial path before, during, and after school will be essential to your success. If you’re currently in high school, then take steps now to prepare for higher education. By maximizing success in high school, you greatly increase your ability to qualify for scholarship and other financial aid.
Retaining Your Professional Status Is Costly
Lab fees, professional associations and memberships fees, and the need for ongoing training are all additional expenses that doctors must pay to retain their professional status. Doctors even have their own insurance needs, should they find themselves the unfortunate targets of a malpractice or negligence lawsuit. All of these hidden fees and expenses add up quickly, and if they aren’t planned for, it can cause additional strain on an already risky debt to income ratio. And doctors themselves even have their own insurance needs! Knowing what you need to budget for regarding your continuing education will ensure that you are not surprised by the need to continue honing your craft.
Risks Vs. Rewards
There are a lot of pros and cons to being a doctor. Fortunately, the rewards of becoming a doctor and making a difference in the lives of your patients far outweigh any risks associated with this career. Being able to help others improve their quality of life and, in some cases, even save lives is a very noble calling. Being a doctor brings with a certain level of status and respect, and many find that they enjoy this benefit of being admired by others. The work is challenging and greatly varied; no doubt you will find yourself the star player in many an intriguing tale as you perform your daily duties and contribute to saving the world. With this great responsibility comes the chance to impact the world as you start by bringing health and patient education to the families that you serve. Additionally, you need to think about the public and political world influences your world as well, from prescription drama to huge healthcare reforms coming and going, it’s a changing field you’ll be entering.
Are you “called” to the medical profession? Do you have a passion for serving and helping others? Are you committed to the 13 years of professional training that will embark you on this exciting and fulfilling career? Are you excited about the financial opportunities that exist for you on this career path? For the disciplined servant who desires to help others improve their health and wellness, this is the perfect career for you. The only question that remains then is, do you have the calling?