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Is it worth the time and money to become a Medical Doctor?

I was very set on going to medical school and becoming a doctor this time last year; however, the doctors I have asked have said that they would pursue Nurse Practitioner or Physician Assistant instead if they were to choose their career over again. What do y'all think? Thanks! #doctor #nurse #medical-school #pre-med #doctorate-degree #physician-assistant #nurse-practitioner

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Richard’s Answer

Yes! It is absolutely worth it. There are a lot of long hours studying in the library followed by long hours in the hospital, but it is a fulfilling career. There are so many opportunities after medical school... different specialties appeal to different individuals. Or you can follow a nonclinical route in research or even hospital administration.

If you can keep your expenses down (live with parents, attend community college which can be free in some cities, complete your degree at an inexpensive public institution etc) debt doesn't have to be out of control. However the typical student does not do everything they can to decrease expenses then has to be stressed during their first years of practice.

Another unfortunate consequence of debt is limiting the student's choices after graduation. If a student has a passion for pediatrics, but crippling debt, they may be forced to apply to residencies with higher future earning potential.

A typical experience would be to complete residency and become an employee of a group. You aren't able to pay down your debt much because you are saving to become a partner. You buy into the group and then start making partnership money. That's when you are able to really tackle that debt.

But typically you are looking at 10-15 years to pay back your student debt.

On a side note, watch this video which compares a UPS driver to a physician. It makes a lot of assumptions about debt and saving/investment, but concludes that the average primary care physician doesn't become financially better off than a driver until age 53.\

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Rachel’s Answer

Sometimes choosing a career is easier when you learn what is involved in getting to that career. General surgery is a great field requiring a medical doctorate. This means that you will have to complete college with a bachelor’s degree as well as all of the Pre-med requirements (1 year biology, 1 year inorganic chemistry, 1 year organic chemistry + labs, physics, calculus, and biochemistry). GPA should probably be 3.5 or better (preferably >3.8). You will also have to score well on the MCAT. Once accepted to medical school, as long as you pass your classes and perform reasonably well during your four years of medical training, you can apply for a general surgery 5 year residency. Following that, you will likely apply for a 1-3 year fellowship. This career path requires 14+ years of school after high school but is very fulfilling and challenging work.

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Ann’s Answer

Hi Isabel,

That's a really tough question that really only you can answer. Med school is very expensive and rigorous, but if you want it bad enough it would be worth it. My recommendation would be to do research on each career to see what will fit you best. Check out the website, because it will give you salary insights, future projections for demand for that position, as well as, information on the skills and knowledge a career entails.

The one recommendation I can give you is that if you are looking to study premed, I suggest majoring in chemistry as opposed to biology. If for some reason you decide to not pursue the medical field after your undergraduate, there are far more job opportunities in chemistry than there are in biology. Good luck!