The Cost of Medical School

I have already discussed how going to medical school may or may not be worth it financially and probably isn’t worth it socially; however, should you choose to go to medical school, the costs can be great.  Have you ever looked at the figures of medical student debt and thought to yourself “How in the world do you amass $300,000 in debt?”  Well it is a no brainer if you have been through medical school and seen all the costs for yourself.  Let me break it down.

Of course we all know that medical school requires a yearly tuition.  Luckily my medical school has tuition of around $20,000.  The average medical school tuition is around $30,000 though.  That is a nice $120,000 right off the bat. 

Next up is living expenses.  Medical students largely do not live within their means.  They spend about $2000/month on rent, food, clothes, anything extra they want…at least that’s the budget that most have at my school.  Over the course of 4 years that comes out to be roughly $96,000.  Okay, so the grand total so far is only $216,000.  That leaves $84,000 to go, and that is no small sum of money.

If you thought books in college were expensive, then you are in for a rude awakening when you get to medical school.  So far if you bought every book for every class at my medical school, you would have spent about $3000/year.  There goes another $12,000.  During year 2 when you take Step 1, Step 1 itself costs about $500 to take and the Qbanks to study for cost about $500.  During fourth year, Step 2 costs around $1600 and you can expect to spend another $500 on the Qbank for it as well.  Educational material so far is up to $15,100. 

What kind of doctor doesn’t have doctor utensils such as a blood pressure cuff, stethoscope, otoscope, ophthalmoscope, tuning fork, reflex hammer, pager, etc…  That will run you about $1000.  Not to mention that administration loves to nickel and dime the students for just about everything extra throughout your tenure at the school such as parking permits, scrubs, locker fee, Intramural sports fee, and more.

Our grand total is up to $232,100.  Have you ever had a laptop that lasted for more than 5 years?  Most people haven’t, so that laptop you had in college will need to be replaced soon.  That is another $1000. 

Admittedly, most of the rest of the debt is from poor spending habits or attending an expensive medical school.  If you attended a medical school with $50,000 tuition per year then you are already up to $313,100.  Most students with around $230,000 in debt reach the $300,000 mark from frivolous purchases.  I have mentioned before that medical students feel entitled to own “cool” things because they are “so smart and achieved so much”…let’s not forget that they will be making “a lot of money when they become a real doctor.”  Well as we have seen in another article, doctors don’t make much more money than a savvy person with a $55,000 salary.  I have seen my peers buy a $30,000 brand new car.  Why would you put money that you have to pay back into an asset that is guaranteed to depreciate?  A lot of my peers also LOVE Apple products.  They buy an iPad and a MacBook Pro and a new iPhone. 

It requires an expensive medical school or living outside of your means to reach the $300,000 debt mark, but it is no surprise that a lot of students have $200,000+ in debt.  To me, the biggest cost of all is the opportunity cost of going to medical school.  The time required for medical school is just absolutely insane.  It really does have to be your true passion for it to make sense financially and time wise.  I tell all prospective medical students that if there is anything else other than medicine that they would like to do then do it instead. 

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