If you’re like most premed students looking for pre-health experience or pre-dentistry experience, the dream of being a physician or dentist is likely something that you’ve held in your heart for a good, long time. Maybe you’ve been inspired by a physician role model in your life. Maybe you’re fascinated by the expanding world of medicine — a career field that is constantly being updated with new and thrilling discoveries.
Whatever the reason for your desire to pursue a career in medicine, you likely are also aware of the many perks of the profession. Generally speaking, physicians are respected. They enjoy financially stable careers, and they can take satisfaction in knowing that their work is contributing positively toward society’s betterment. All things which to a certain degree can be said about a dentist as well. However, the life of a physician is definitely not all roses, and the downsides to the path to an MD are also hard to ignore. These cons understandably lead many premeds looking for pre-health experience to question the value of a medical school degree, to wonder if it’s all really worth it.
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Arguably the greatest “con” to a medical school degree is the initial financial burden. That can be said for those looking for pre-health experience and even those seeking pre-dentistry experience when it comes to dental school. While in-state tuition at public medical schools is relatively affordable for many students, premeds typically can’t be too picky about where they end up attending med school.
If they are only accepted to an out-of-state school or a private institution, they will most likely end up paying at least $50,000 per year in tuition alone. this cost (which is even higher, depending on the school) does not cover living expenses, books, or enrollment and loan fees. Receiving scholarships for medical school is much more difficult than receiving them for undergraduate programs, and the government presently does not offer any subsidized loans for grad school either.
Unless they have managed to save up a hefty sum of money prior to starting school or are fortunate enough to have family sponsors, med students attending non-state schools can easily find themselves graduating with well over $200,000 of debt. This sum will also have accruing interest and may prove to be understandably financially stressful for any freshly graduated physician (especially those who have undergraduate loans to pay also).
Furthermore, while the current future of the health care system in the United States is a hot topic for debates, it’s also a bit of a dilemma for doctors. The Affordable Care Act largely changes the way that the entire medical system’s structure will operate, and physicians and other health care workers will undoubtedly be affected in some way or another. This makes things more difficult for those seeking pre-health experience. However, exactly how the new regulations will affect doctors remains largely a mystery.
While many have spent hours speculating over the future of the health care industry in America, the fact remains that we simply don’t know yet. We don’t know how changes tot he current will affect physicians’ payrolls. We don’t know how the changes will affect doctors’ working hours. We don’t even know how long it will take before changes become fully implemented into this system, and we definitely don’t know how long those changes will last for. With this many unknowns hanging over the future of the medical careers in America, it’s easy to see why many premeds are growing unsure of the wisdom in pursuing their dreams of one day earring their MDs.
Premeds and medical students today are also faced with the uncertainty of being able to successfully be “matched” to their desired residencies. In fact, medical students are beginning to have to worry about whether or not they will even be “matched” at all — favorite residency or least desired residency included. This uncertainty has arisen due to the increasing number of MD programs in the United States (such as the newly opened University of California, Riverside School of Medicine), along with a growing number of DO schools as well. Interestingly enough, the number of available residency spots, however, has not increased in proportion to the number of graduating medical students per year.