I’ve been quite blessed financially for my undergraduate degree and first few years of medical school. I received several scholarships that helped offset the high cost of tuition and have been lucky to keep student debts low. The thought of not having enough money never really crossed my mind. However, since clerkship started, I’ve been having these irrational thoughts about my finances. They say an average Canadian medical student will graduate with around $100,000 in debt. My finances are no where near those levels, but I just can’t help but have these thoughts about money.
Maybe it’s because it no longer feels like I’m in school. My days feel more like work: show up in the hospital, see patients in the clinic, dress and act professionally, be a helpful part of the health care team. Maybe it’s from my friends who graduated with other degrees (engineering, accounting, business) who are now starting their careers and making a living. Maybe it’s from all the recent bills I’ve been receiving, flights and electives I’ve needed to book and scholarship money drying up. My bank account has been in financial free fall, spiraling hopelessly towards the red line.
I never went into medicine for the money. Yet I am beginning to understand and empathize with how financial reimbursement can influence the decisions medical students make, including choosing lucrative residencies, completing shorter programs or avoidance poor paying specialties. It’s stressful when you spend 40-60 hours each week working, but to have only a loss of income to show for it. Or it’s hard to be a medical resident, going through the toughest times in your training, but to receive the same pay as a high school kid working at McDonald’s.
Money, it’s taboo to mention it in medicine, but everyone’s got to make a living somehow, right?
In no way is this post about physician salary, are they paid too much/to little, the differences between specialty pay, etc. It’s just a quick reflection of something that’s been on my mind lately, that’s quite new to me.