After having a few lectures on student loans and repayment options, I reflected on the overall cost of medical school. I was fortunate enough to not have to pay for college, and so my father used that money to help me pay for medical school (which I am eternally grateful for). For an average person, my story is not the norm, so I wanted to dig into the costs of getting through medical school.
As I was digging around, I was surprised to learn that bachelor degree holders had a median amount owed of 25,000. I was surprised that it was this low. I had expected it to be much higher. I’m assuming that a lot of parents help out with college payments. Now let’s factor in medical school. According to the AAMC, the median four-year cost of attendance is 249,000, and the median education debt was 190,000. Put together, that’s about 215,000 of debt.
While many would say that isn’t very much, don’t forget about the opportunity cost of attending medical school. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the weekly earnings of a bachelor’s degree is $1,170 which puts it at a median salary of $56,160 annually. So while in medical school, we miss out on $224,640 of income. Some of you will argue that the starting salary of being an attending (eventually) will offset this. Don’t forget that, during residency, loans will accrue interest, and if we assume an added 10% of interest, our total costs are climbing to >$400,000.
There is a lot more analysis you can do on this. For instance, medical school requires a lot of work: 80 hrs/week for studying, we could calculate an actual potential lost income and also do this for residency (assuming a 25-30/hr wage with a bachelor’s degree). You’ll find that in some instances, the opportunity cost of becoming a doctor is almost $800,000. Ultimately, this probably drives people to choose certain specialties.
Here’s an article (dated) that did a decent amount of calculation on this topic.
So to answer the question: Is medical school worth it from an economic perspective? To me, the answer is quickly becoming a resounding no.