Hi. I know most people think that doctors make a lot of money and therefore don’t need to worry about the cost of their education. However, in reality I (like most med students) am likely going to graduate over $200,000 in debt. Your reaction may be “yeah but you’ll be making the big bucks then, and you can pay it all back”. While it may be true that I’ll be making a decent living at some point, I will not be doing so when I graduate from medical school. In fact I will be making about $40,000/year for the next 3-5 years of my life in residency, which is for an 80 hour work week and therefore is actually closer to minimum wage (not bad for someone with a professional degree). Previously, I (like most medical students) was eligible to claim economic hardship for the first 3 years and have my $200,000 bill wait for me until I could afford to pay it and the government would pay any interest accruing. Approximately 67% of medical residents qualified for economic hardship. This past September, Congress and the President passed a bill that disqualifies almost all medical residents from being able to claim economic hardship during this period. This means that medical residents will be left with a choice. Foot a $2,000+ bill every month or go into forbearance. When in forbearance, we will accrue interest on our entire $200,000+ loan for the entire 3-5 years while in residency. This is a lot of money! In a country that needs more doctors, our government should not be making someone’s choice to go into medicine more difficult with a hefty financial burden.
If you’d like to read more about this issue, the AMA has written up a good outline of the events. If you’d like to contact your Congress-people (like I did) and let them know you’re outraged they would do such a thing to the country’s future physicians, the AMA made an easy form to do it for you. Spread the word if you care to.