Thursday, January 12, 2017

Financial Advice for the Future Physician

Dr. Jim Dahle runs the popular healthcare-professional blog White Coat Investor. One of his posts detailed 8 Financial Tips for students looking into a medical career:
Choose the cheapest school you can get into

The decision of which school to attend will have a greater impact on your finances for the next 5-20 years than any other decision other than who/if you marry and what specialty you choose to practice. Choose wisely. I’ll give you a hint–Most medical schools in this country provide a pretty comparable education. Most of what you learn in medical school will come from what you teach yourself and the pearls dispensed to you freely by interns, residents, and other doctors you come into contact with. Little of that learning is dependent on the school you choose. Thus, choose the cheap state school if you can get into it. Don’t forget that costs aren’t limited just to tuition and fees, but also to the local cost-of-living. That school in Boston, New York, or San Francisco is going to cost you a lot more than the one in Omaha or Albuquerque.

Consider the merits of “scholarship” programs carefully

There are several organizations that would like to pay for your medical school in exchange for a commitment. The military Health Professions Scholarship Program is the best known, but the US Public Health Service, Indian Health Services, and other private deals also exist. None of these programs is a “scholarship” in the traditional sense of the word, and many a “scholarship winner” has later realized he would have been much better off, personally and financially, if he hadn’t been awarded the “scholarship.” As a general rule, use these programs only if your career goal is to be a military doctor or a rural primary care doctor. Choosing them for the money is almost surely a mistake you will regret.

Personally, I can attest strongly to his first piece of advice. Choosing a cost-effective medical school has meant the difference between graduating essentially debt-free versus graduating with loan repayments stretching out as far as the eye can see. As life progresses, your costs will increase, so that "manageable" monthly repayment will become increasingly burdensome, especially if you are interested in purchasing a house or having a children as you near the end of the long road of medical training (or already have those obligations!)

For the rest of his tips, check out Dr. Dahle's post 8 Financial Tips for Pre-meds and Medical Students.

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