Paying Your Dues

Medicine, as a profession, has a reputation for taking a long time. Doctors go to school for years and years, often not beginning their careers in earnest until after turning 30. So it’s pretty common for people to comment on this fact when I discuss what medical school I am attending, what kind of doctor I will be, etc. 

If you think about it, however, this isn’t too dissimilar from many other professions. I have friends that are business majors, some in my class and some in classes before me. After their undergrad, many have gone back to do graduate work, as the four year degree is less and less competitive. The two years they spend in graduate school is mostly the same as our two pre-clinical years. Another trend I have noticed is that business majors often spend several semesters doing internships, often after graduation. Even once they find a position, it is often entry level, and they must work for several years to become a partner, a VP, or an established member of the company. 

This is much the same as medical training, except that in medicine we formally identify the period of working a lot for very little money as “residency”. In the business world it’s just this vague idea of “paying your dues” or “working your way up”. I’m not too worked up about the time commitment I am making to medicine, as I know any other field I would consider would mean similar time frames. 

On this note, however, I do have a decision to consider. Do I take out around $180k in student loans, to be repaid over the course of 5-10 years of practicing medicine? Or should I instead opt to go with a service scholarship, resulting in no debt but extra years of “paying my dues” to the military even after I finish residency. I have to admit, leaving school in a few years with no debt is very tempting.

That’s pretty much it for this post. I drafted it a while ago, and since then have attended a fancy social dinner at the beautiful home of a certain doctor on faculty here at school, further reinforcing my belief in my ability to repay these loans on my own. I can also say that “orientation week” really translates to “drinking at various places around city”. I’m pretty sure this holds true for most medical schools. 

Thanks for reading.



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