I realize everyone says don’t go into medicine for the money. I’m not going in to make a boatload of money but I’m actually concerned about not making enough money and paying off loans and everything. I’m always hearing that residents make minimum wage with their hard work weeks and with the average $200,000 student loan debt this seems like such a scary decision to make. My family is by no means rich but we aren’t in the brackets that qualify for a lot of aid either. Are any of you worried about going into debt? How do you handle this? Do you have any plans you can recommend or how you plan to pay off these loans or just manage finances in general so that I don’t dig myself into a hole and burden my family? Idk I just realized how little we’ll be making for how long, and I don’t want to be leeching off of my parents for too long or feel like a burden on them either. I guess I’m just scared.
Your concerns are absolutely valid. The path to becoming a doctor doesn’t allow for the most stable income source, which can definitely be scary! One of the steps that I’ve taken, which may or may not be helpful advice depending on your situation, is to seek out paid employment wherever I can during undergrad. I’ve definitely had to take a paid job as opposed to a clinical volunteering opportunity in order to get myself a little more financially ready for medical school. I’m also taking a gap year to gain a full year of paid employment while applying to medical school so that I can give myself a little bit of an extra buffer. If you can consider it, taking 1+ gap years might be a very smart decision in order to help alleviate some financial stresses before going to medical school.
I know you mentioned that your family might not qualify for large financial aid packages, but I’d also suggest reaching out to some target schools’ financial aid offices. I haven’t applied to schools yet so I can’t speak from experience for medical school financial aid, but for undergrad it definitely ended up being beneficial that I reached out to financial aid offices via email. The purpose of these emails was to get more information about how financial aid worked at their specific institution, explain any unusual circumstances that could potentially influence my financial aid package, and understand how I could best plan for the future. Most of the time, the financial aid officers will have your best interest in mind, and can even help you plan for what kinds of loans would be best to consider, and what steps their students have taken who may be in similar situations to you.
If you have any more questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!
-Owen, (former) PMH Co-President