Could it be? After 9 years and many Ferrari's worth of tuition paid to Stanford University, I have just paid my last tuition bill! With money that isn't my own of course. I once heard that each year's tuition can buy about one of the huge palm trees lining Palm Drive, the entry to Stanford. If that's the case, listen up, Stanford. I should have my own small forest of palm trees right now. You can call it La Grove de Katherine to keep with the Spanish-style theme you have going on.
I am fortunate to have parents who value my higher education more than fancy cars or clothes. They have sacrificed a lot to send me to medical school. When I think about the glamorous life my parents could be living right now if it weren't for my tuition, I feel a little terrible. But I can't think about another career where I would be so happy, so I think for me, it was worth it. I hope my parents agree. They now live under Interstate 85 in Atlanta. I try to bring them warm blankets and gruel when I'm in town.
Ok, not really. But the cost of a medical education is completely outrageous. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the average debt is $162,000 for allopathic students. Unacceptable. And everybody wonders why medical students are now choosing dermatology (the most disgusting field ever) over primary care fields (the best, most rewarding careers ever in my opinion). It turns out when you have $200,000 in debt and go into a low-paying field, like primary care, you'll be lucky to pay off your debt before you're dead. Whereas if you go into dermatology, start your own skin-care line, and Botox the hell out of the local country club, debt goes poof! Like magic! Unfortunately for me, I was not destined for derm, and I'm one of the stupid, yet amazingly happy, people who wants to go into Pediatrics, one of the lowest paying, but most spectacular, specialties.
It's funny how the reality of the cost of med school and tuition payments and debt was not something most pre-meds really considered all that deeply. We all kind of assumed, hey, we'll be rich someday, it will all work out. In med school, you get loans. You feel rich. You buy things. You get more loans. This money isn't real, you think. It's just Monopoly money. But now, as 4th year med students nearing graduation, I hear a lot more discussions amongst my classmates about finances. And debt. And I have absolutely no doubt that several of my classmates decided their specialty because of money. Had they not been in so much debt, maybe they would have become Family Medicine docs instead.
So pre-meds, I urge you to consider these things before you spend 4 years and $200,000 in medical school and decide, you know what, medicine isn't for me. Do your research beforehand. Shadow somebody in medicine. If you love basic science, consider doing a PhD instead of or in addition to your MD. Though very competitive, MD-PhD and PhD students have their tuition covered and receive a stipend every year. Consider going to an in-state school. And please, please, please, don't go to medical school because of the money. There are much easier ways to become rich. Most doctors aren't rich. And very few doctors are ever filthy rich. If this is your goal, I'd recommend hedge funds. Or consulting. Or a sugar mama or daddy.
I have loved almost every minute of my ridiculously expensive education at Stanford. I will miss being a student. But damn, I will NOT miss those tuition payments!