Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The ROI Makes Medicine Still Worthwhile

Congratulations to the new medical school and residency graduates. All of you will be venturing out into the world with a massive store of knowledge prepared to treat the ills of the world. Never mind that many of you will be burdened with some of the highest education debt of any college graduates.

But I'm not here to remind you of how much money you owe. I'm here to give you encouraging words on your career choice. Even though it may not feel like it right now, you are embarking on one of the most fiscally sound professions anywhere. Sure it may seem that you'll never be able to pay off the six figure student loan in your lifetime, but believe me, you will. And you are in a better position than many of your buddies who went into other fields.

You don't believe me? Let's say you have a $200,000 school loan you'll have to return. At least you'll have a job where the median salary for primary care is over $200,000 a year according to the latest Census Bureau statistic. And you'll have plenty of work to help pay off that loan. In the next ten years it is estimated that another 168,000 doctors will be needed to take care of our aging population and replace disgruntled retiring physicians. So there will be lot of opportunities to erase that debt.

By comparison, thousands of college graduates are facing the prospect of unemployment this summer. Let's just pick on one profession, the lawyers. There are an estimated 45,000 new law graduates flooding the market this summer. That is a scary thought, for both us and the lawyers since there are only about 28,000 new job positions available. Therefore many lawyers don't even work in law, or they're being hired to review documents in sweatshops at $30 per shift. Underemployment is so bad among lawyers that even a $10,000 a year job finds dozens of inquiries. Compared to doctors, these new lawyers are going to have a heck of a times paying back their $100k law school loans when they are either unemployed or making $10 per hour.

So to all you new doctors entering the world. You've wisely chosen a career that has an almost guaranteed full employment. Though your debt is high, your return on investment is sound. You've watched with envy as all your friends graduated years ahead of you but now you have the last laugh. While many of them have moved back home with their moms and dads, you've reached the next adult milestone of finding and keeping a respectable job. All those nights that you were collapsed on the sofa from exhaustion while they were out partying are history, at least for the residency graduates. Now the tables have turned. Just try not to smirk too much when you treat your nonphysician friends to a night on the town and have to listen to their tales of woe and joblessness.

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