If I start my Med school in 3 years, and take 8 years to complete residency, then the loans for med fees + lost income would probably be close to 1.5mil. Am I crazy to still consider this option? I will be close to 60 by then, so what chances of me recouping such a loss? Anyone else in similar situation? Maybe I should postpone this idea till my family (2 kids in school) responsibilities are taken care of. By then I will be in mid 50s, and so might as well forget the whole thing Would love to hear from others in a similar boat.
I am curious about where you got your figures…residency is most frequently 3 yrs with specialties consuming more time. While there are a few that require 8yrs, there are not too many - not even neurosurg is that long. CT surg & pedi surg are 9yrs total, including fellowship time. O/w, 8yrs is a bit of an over-estimate.
As a general rule:
Med school 4 or 5 yrs
Res usu 3yrs (+/- fellowship time)
Typical Total ~11yrs from the start, assuming you do a complete 4-yr Ugrad degree.
Regarding $$: most folks work at least some during Ugrad. Very few folks work during med school & those that do usually do it through a work/study program such as tutoring, lab asst and so on. If your pre-med profession allows for high-flexibility & functioning in a consulting role (and your clients are highly understanding of your demanding schedule & their lack of being the priority), then working during med school is typically a no-go.
Working as a resident = moonlighting. this can be an excellent source of cash, but is highly dependent upon many factors:
1 - Does your program allow it?
2 - State licensure laws will dictate when you can get an independent license, which is usually required to moonlight.
3 - Med liability insurance (frequently, the facility will cover this as part of your compensation)
4 - Is in-house/in-program moonlighting available? If you can do this, this is THE ticket! But all moonlighting allegedly goes against your total hours under the hours restriction policies; so you have to watch out.
5 - Moonlighting $$/hr varies by program & geography. In Saginaw, MI $75~100/hr was common. At Dartmouth, the going rate was ~$50/hr, more if you were willing to staff an ED in the boonies.
Loans & lost wages - big 'if’s there! Your loan totals will be vastly different for private vs. state-schools & by where (NYC, SF, LA, Bos will all drain your wallet, but the mid-West is very wallet-friendly!). How much earning you will loose is directly related to how much you make & must be evaluated in context of how much will you potentially make as a physician. Not all disciplines make high salaries. Yes, all of them make far more than the average wage-earner, but very few of them will make you rich or even independently wealthy merely thru your physician’s earnings alone (most docs who become rich do so thru wise/lucky investing of their excess cash flow).
All in all, yes, you must evaluate how reachable & how feasible the med school path is in context of your specific situation. And, realize that being a physician does not equal wealth…in my opinion, if wealth is your motivator, there are many ways to make as much, if not more money thru far less taxing & stressful mechanisms.
I am in a very similar-sounding situation to yours. I am a 43 year old nurse practitioner with two kids, ages 15 and 12. I am currently going through a divorce. I’ve been contemplating going to medical school for the past year and I’ve been researching MD and DO programs, speaking with admissions counselors, and several of the physicians where I work. I just started taking a college level algebra and trig course at a community college to “brush up” on my math skills since it’s been a long time since I’ve taken a math class. Down the road, I may or may not take pre-calc and calculus, and I’ve been looking into post-bacc programs and/or taking individual courses at one of the local four year colleges for the remaining pre-reqs I need: Gen Chem, Organic Chem, Physics.
My current plan is that I will take all the prereqs over the next few years and will most likely take the MCAT. If I do well and get accepted into a program, I am not planning on starting until my youngest child graduates from high school (6 years). I do not want to relocate my kids now, nor can I afford to stop working full-time at this point in my life. However, once they both graduate, I will be selling my house and then I can go anywhere. I am very much interested in the DO programs since they seem to be more favorable to “non-traditional” students and I’ve spoken with the admissions director and a student at UNECOM. I’ve also met with the admissions director at the MD medical college where I work. She was very positive and supportive, however, she said that some residency programs may be more reluctant to take someone who will be as old as I will be when I get there (around 54). I would like to know what other peoples’ experiences have been with regard to that.
My dilemma is very similar to yours. I presently work full-time as an adult NP and I make approximately $77K per year. It’s a pretty easy job with regular hours, however, I don’t find it particularly challenging and I always find myself wanting to learn more about various medical conditions and understanding biological processes.
Let me tell you a little about myself: I’ve been a nurse for over 10 years, nursing was a second career for me, after working in business for a few years. I really didn’t know what I wanted to do while I was in undergraduate school. I had always loved science, but because I didn’t like math and didn’t do well in high school chemistry, I dismissed looking into medical school when I was an undergrad. I majored in Liberal Arts, with concentrations in biology, political science, and economics, and had a minor in biology. I took a lot of biology in my undergraduate college: Gen Bio 1 and 2, Comparative Physiology, Developmental Physiology, Embryology, Neurobiology, Zoology. Later on, when I was looking into going to nursing school, I took Anatomy and Physiology 1 and 2, Intro to General, Organic, and Biochem, Microbiology, and when going for my MSN, I took Advanced Anatomy and Physiology. I didn’t do that well in most of my undergrad classes except my science classes. Because I loved science and applied myself to those classes, I had a 3.5 GPA (approximately) in my science classes. However, as an undergrad, I attribute my borderline grades to being young, immature, and non-focused. When I decided to go to nursing school 10 years afterward, I graduated at the very top of my class with a 4.0 GPA. When I finished my Master’s in 2006, I had a 3.85 GPA. I am so much more mature, focused, and driven now, which is part of the reason why I’m even considering going to medical school.
However, I have a lot of concerns, including having a lot of student loan debt to repay when I’m all finished with med school, residency, fellowship. I will probably be close to 60 at that point! Although I have no intention of retiring at 65 and have every intention of working full or part-time for as long as I can, I realize that sometimes life happens and people can become sick and disabled. I am very much afraid of investing that much time and money into a medical career and having something catastrophic happen to me and make me unable to work as a physician and pay off my debts. Also, I would stand to lose a lot in wages I could have earned as an NP for the 4 years of going to medical school. If possible, I would like to try to work per-diem as an NP or RN while in med school or residency to at least have some money coming in. I would like to be able to moonlight while in residency or fellowship to have some money coming in. I’m interested in going into radiology and I’ve met with a few radiologists in the hospital where I work. They’ve said that as a radiology fellow you can make extra money by reading xrays and scans from home, etc.
Anyway, I’ve thought about this alot and am trying to do my research about whether or not this is a good thing for me to do at this point in my life. I wish I had done this when I was younger, but I realize that life happens and things happen for a reason. I think this would have been very difficult for me to do when my kids were younger and maybe this was something I was meant to do later in life after I was done raising my kids. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life wondering “what if?” and, instead, I will take the prereqs, see how well I do on them and on the MCAT, and if I get into a school, then I will make the decision as to whether or not I go forward. If I don’t do well in the classes or the MCAT, then at least I can say that I tried and that it wasn’t meant to be…
Sorry I went on for so long! I’m very glad to have found this website recently and would very much appreciate any feedback anyone wants to provide…
Thanks David, npdoc for some good insights. A correction in my earlier post- I did not mean 8 years of residency, but 8 years to be done with Med school and residency. So, If I start med school in 3 years, it will be 11 years by the time I really start working.
I am not looking at becoming rich by becoming a doctor- fortunately I am ok fincalically with what I am doing. But that is the issue- I want to have a more meaningful occupation- at least at some stage in my life. However, given that the financial burden could be great now, I am torn. I have made all kinds of spreadsheet calculations, and am frankly scared to show these to my wife- she will freak out! The only hope is if I can show that after 11 years (I will be 58 then), once I start working, I will be able to recoup the expenses in say 5-10 years more, it may have some calming effect But as npdoc put it, what if I am unable to work that long??? I am also tending to what npdoc has mentioned- take all the pre-reqs and MCAT, maybe also apply and get admission, do the financial math again then, and then take a decision. If I can do it, good, else, at least I tried.
A few notes on why I think I am considering MEd school now- hopefully I am being honest with myself here.
Over 30 years ago, I had the opportunity to join one of the prestigious med schools back in India. But my dad was on the faculty of the med school, so I did not join as I will have to take courses from him at college! (had enough of his lecturing at home! (sounds silly now looking back !).
Meandered into engineering all these years, but the interest in going to med school has always been dormant. Now my older daughter is showing some interest in Med school (she is a high-school sophomore now). So I am hoping that by my going to Med school, she may get inspired as well, and maybe we both together can work together much later in life. Who knows- all esoteric thoughts.
Besides, my kids and wife think I would have made a better doctor…
I would not advise anyone past 40 to follow the quest for doctordom in the expectation that they will come out ahead financially. It is reasonable to count your resources and be sure you won’t end up bankrupt and in debt at retirement, but don’t expect to come out much ahead financially, esp not if you count lost wages from a half way decent job.
I started med school at 45 - leaving work as a geologist with a local civil engineering firm and a 50 K salary … at 52 I just started a month ago as a Family Practice physician. Even at the significantly better pay now it is little better than a break even proposition by the tie you count lost wages school loans etc. True, other specialties pay better, but they also take longer to finish … not an issue if starting in your 20’s, but for us old farts every year is a big percent of expected career time and of no small consequence.
I did it with three kids in various stages of school. Financially I had the benefit of not being the sole bread winner in our family. Another unexpected benefit was that because of being in Medical school my kids qualified for really great financial aid. Two of the three have gone to top ranked private schools and done well - (the third is not yet to college age)
FInances are an issue, but should not be the key issue. I know it sounds a bit like a master card commercial, but this week I reassured a new mom her 2 month old was doing well. I told a 50 year old she very likely had cancer and got her on the way to treatment. I helped a 49 y/o alcoholic on the way to recovery. I reassured a 86 y/o that the sore on his tongue was not cancer, and helped a 56 y/o transgendered person recognize that the stable cysts on her adrenals were not dangerous. I delve into the lives of the opioid dependent and help the depressed see the connections between mood and pain … I touch lives in ways I would never have dreamed… and the value of that is beyond counting.
good luck with your dreams.
oh and as a PS – sorry old man dave - but I never found moonlighting to be much benefit. After working 6 12 hour days I was always too pooped to want to do it on my one day off, even if for extra pay. I encourage people in residency to try it some if the situation allows, but more for the experience than the financial gain. I would certainly not count on it as a financial make or break …
- tooold Said:
- swy55 Said:
It is readily apparent that I did a piss-poor job of communicating the point I intended to make here. But SWY55 does an excellen job of doing so...
- swy55 Said:
The impact you can & will have on your patients is astounding. On a daily basis in the ICU, the magnitude of the emotions of the family interactions I have continue to be surreal. There are few things more humbling than the watery-eyes of a family I have to take into conference to have the conversation that they fear the most. I frequently get teary-eyed with them, because I am human too. On the flip side, I am also honored to be the one to make the call to tell them, "...things are improving & I think we're gonna make it..." - still get teary-eyed on that one too. The rewards go far beyond the dollars, it reaches all the way down into your 'essence' and no amount of money can supplant nor augment that.
Of course, from pragmatic & reality perspectives, you have to demonstrate to yourself that doing this will not destroy your family nor yourself financially. Starting late, esp if you are 40+ starting med school & leaving a well-paying profession, it will be very challenging (if not impossible) to demonstrate a fiscal gain. At best, if you chose minimized your costs & time at every step, I suspect a zero-sum or maybe a small positive could be achieved. However, as SWY55 & I stated above, the rewards are not in the dollars, but we totally understand the absolute need to avert fiscal disaster too.
The overall costs is something that in virtually all cases strongly favors doing this young or at least on the lower end of nontrad. That precept was totally unknown to me when I launched on this as a Ugrad retread at age 30. I am, again, very fortunate to have taken the plunge at a relatively young, old-age. But, even now starting out at 42 as a double-specialist in what are both fairly lucritive fields, I will neve have a lavish lifestyle (big cars, fancy homes & what not). I simply owe so much (>$275,000 in loans & un-Godly level of credit debt on top of that), have zero retirement & two kids to put through college to ever buy the classic "Doctor's Toys". But that is totally OK with me - those things were not what drove me into my profession of choice. I will get to live in a manner where I no longer fear bill-paying day. My wife & I will have a secure retirement & my children will go to college, if they desire - it may not be a free-ride to Harvard, but I will have the ability to aid them substantially. Most of all, I have the honor of going to work every day & do something I have always wanted to do & make major impacts on people's lives several times a day.
Personal & professional satisfaction are a coin that few ever get to experience.
Don’t forget that once you start residency, you DO get paid. It’s not a lot, especially if you were in a decent job before, but it is real money. FP residents in crappy areas - i.e. hard to attract - are getting $50K plus housing allowances in some places.
You may be able to work while doing your pre-med education, depending on how much you need to do and what sort of job you have now.
I don’t see much point to adding up all the possible ways in which you are behind financially, if at the end of the day you are pretty sure you are going to like what you do. I am sure there are jobs where I could make as much money as I do now, and/or work as hard as I do now – but I am also sure that there isn’t another job that I would enjoy as much. That’s not to say that money isn’t important, but it’s not the only thing to factor into your thinking.
When I think back to my unhappy early 40s in the sucky dead-end job I had, and project out to where I’d be if I’d stayed there instead of changing course… ugh. I made a real good move.