Medical Education Costs and Student Debt

Posted by National CPR Association | Medical Education Aug 10, 2017

Interested in entering the healthcare field? Whether you are considering becoming a Doctor, nurse, or technician, the costs of a medical education can be staggering.

Not that long ago, Dr. Richard Gunderman published an article on The Health Care Blog detailing the story of 35 year old radiology resident, Melissa Chen, in her final year at UT San Antonio.

frustrated student sits behind a desk isolated on white background

Chen is the typical med student. She perseveres through the gauntlet that is medical school, with the hopes of attaining a long and hopefully lucrative career. UTSA is a good school by all accounts – not the top five in the world, but very acceptable. Furthermore, when Chen was in attendance there, it was the sixth least expensive public medical school in the US.

 

With that said, Chen estimates her cost of school (when adding in lost wages and benefits to her educational costs) at $2.6 million dollars.

 

Is it worth it?

Chen said yes. However, becoming a physician is mentally and physically challenging by design. It’s a strenuous seven year road to travel from start to finish. On top of that, for most medical students, the cost of traveling that road is more than a financial burden. In some cases, the cost is so cumbersome that the potential gain is outweighed by the known cost.

 

The sad fact is, most graduates are saddled with more debt than they can handle, and a career seen by many as lucrative barely pays the bills for years or decades until loans are paid off.

 

Let’s take a look at some numbers regarding the cost of a medical school education.

  • 84% – Percentage of medical students from the class of 2014 who graduated in debt
  • 79% – Percentage of medical students who graduated in 2014 over $100,000 in debt
  • 43% – Percentage of medical students who graduated in 2014 over $200,000 in debt
  • 10% – Percentage of medical students who graduated in 2014 over $300,000 in debt
  • $176,348 – Average amount of debt for medical students who graduated in 2014

 

Nevertheless, more students than every sign up each year for pre-med courses.

 

The average amount of debt medical school students graduated with in 1992 was $50,000. That is roughly around $86,000 today, after the number is inflation adjusted.  That roughly means that the average med school student has doubled their debt.

 

One could make the argument that the first domino in rising health care costs has been the rise in the cost of medical school education. Rising education costs place graduates in a position which requires they earn more quickly to pay off debt, which causes the cost of care to rise. It’s a simple path to follow.

 

Any way you look at it, the cost of medical school is rising and that is placing an exorbitant amount of debt on graduates. Thus far, there has been no easy solution to solving this, although it is generally agreed upon that something has to be done. What that may be remains a mystery… however, without change, the best and brightest may be lost to other careers which place less financial burden on those who wish to enter them!

 

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