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Latest Posts

Fifteen Years Ago Vs. Today: How Much Debt Do Med Students Accumulate?

The total debt cost of medical school has become obnoxious.  When I started medical school 15 years ago this month, I took out approximately $2,000 a month in loans.  $1,000 a month for all living expenses, including food, rent, utilities and entertainment and $1,000 a month for tuition and related expenses.  I got out of medical school with just under $110,000 in loans for which I am currently paying back at a rate of $500 month for 30 years.

I learned the other day that a family medicine resident recently completed medical school with almost $250,000 in medical school loans. Family medicine?  $250,000?  Are you crazy?  If that resident can lock in a 30 year loan at 3.5%, they’re looking at monthly payments of $1,200 a month for the rest of their lives.  With current tax rates, this family resident will need to earn at least Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Happy Hospitalist*

Does Medical Education’s High Price Tag Drive Some Healthcare Costs?

My column in Sunday’s Greenville News.

‘Medical education shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg.’

I was talking to a young man who is starting medical school this fall. His tuition at one of South Carolina’s newer schools will be $40,000 per year. That’s admittedly on the high end. On the low end, it runs a paltry $33,000 per year. And this is all after college, of course. He and others like him are taking out loans to the tune of $240,000 to pay for their medical educations. Another young woman I recently met is in residency and her loan payments are around $2000 per month.

Thinking back on my own medical education, it seems my tuition was around $5000 per year. But then, what with all the Saber Toothed Tigers, Neanderthals and stone surgical tools, things were simpler.. These days, I don’t know how students will do it.

The thing is, American healthcare is expensive. But so is medical education. As we embark on this century, what are the odds that physicians with $240,000 loans for medical school will be able to offer inexpensive care? What are the odds they will enter low-paying specialties? They might be interested in charity care at first, but when the first loan payments come due all the good intentions in the world won’t change the fact that lenders want their money back. Likewise, it won’t change the hard reality that it will be extremely hard for these young physicians to pay for their student loans, buy a house, have a practice (pay malpractice) and raise a family; at least without making a large amount of money in their practices. And then there’s this striking (but seldom mentioned) fact: student loans are non-bankruptable. Student loans are friends for life, or until payed off. Whichever comes first. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at edwinleap.com*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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