Is it worth $300,000 of debt and a decade of training to become a Doctor?

January 31st, 2011

I have blogged at some length about the high-cost and low-returns of entering the legal profession. Aspiring attorneys need to take on massive amounts of student debt in hopes that maybe, they can obtain a high paying job, when in reality they are likely to work long grueling hours in a position that doesn’t pay that much more than they would have earned without a J.D. But what about doctors? Is it worth it. This article says no:

Physicians spend about 40,000 hours training and over $300,000 on their education, yet the amount of money they earn per hour is only a few dollars more than a high school teacher.  Physicians spend over a decade of potential earning, saving and investing time training and taking on more debt, debt that isn’t tax deductible.  When they finish training and finally have an income – they are taxed heavily and must repay their debt with what remains.   The cost of tuition, the length of training and the U.S. tax code places physicians into a deceptive financial situation.

$300,000 of non-dischargeable debt. 8-15 years of additional training. What is the opportunity cost for this profession? At least with Law School, three years and we’re done.

The physician lifestyle is not a great one.

Yes, taking care of patients is rewarding.  However, when physicians are unfairly reimbursed for their services they feel exploited.  This feeling of exploitation or being taken advantage of is what bothers physicians the most.  Physicians spend 40,000 hours training after high school and take out over a quarter million dollars in loans all so that when they are done they can work 60 hours per week, be paid less than they were expected, give about 40% of their income to the government in taxes and pay 25% of their net income to their student loan lender.  They feel exploited because after all that they have sacrificed they are enslaved to the highly regulated healthcare industry, which unfairly pays them.

I suppose my general advice to attorneys–don’t do it for the money, applies equally to med students. Do it because you want to help people, not for the bucks.

H/T Militza.