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Is spending 8 years learning really worth becoming a doctor?

Right now, I'm a sophomore in high school and very often people ask me who I want to be after college. My response had usually been a doctor, but after doing some research about the job, I understand that becoming an actual doctor is a very rocky step. I feel like a lot of time is needed, as well as a lot of financial resources to finish college and then medical school. As well, I understand that after med school I will need to spend another 2-4 years as an intern and then possibly more to specialize in something. So, I'm just wondering whether in the end it will be worth it, because if I do choose this path I feel like the next 12, or so years of my life I will be a student and possibly not earning enough to adequately support myself and pay the school debts. #doctor #medical-school #student-loans #learning #debt #expenses

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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.

I know that all of the above may seem daunting in the tenth grade, but if you enjoy helping people, solving problems, and working with your hands, surgery is a great field. You'll get through all the schooling in the same way you would eat an elephant-- one bite at a time.

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Niaz’s Answer

In addition to what everyone else has said, being in medicine is a lifelong commitment to learning and growing. It will always have its ups and downs. But, you are in classes only for your first two years of medical school. Rotating in a hospital and seeing patients your last two years. Then you work and get paid (not much) for your residency. The debt is something to consider since you may have over $200,000 of loans/debt, but if you truly love the field then it may be worth it to you! To figure that out, you should shadow doctors and volunteer in a hospital. If you love the medical field and dont want to be a physician you can consider becoming a PA, nurse, podiatrist, physical therapist, and more that may not put you in as much debt.

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Wael’s Answer

Is it worth it? No one can tell that except you. These things are relative and very dependent on the person him/her self. Regarding the expense, you need to apply for scholarships.These would help you out financing your degree. Moreover, doctors are paid very very well.