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Is medical school worth it?

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  • Fri, Nov 19, 2010 - 04:24am

    #1

    bmcreider

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    Is medical school worth it?

I have been perusing these forums for some time. After several months of research I think I can make some fair assumptions about the future.

With those assumptions in mind, how debt and resources will affect our economy and lifestyle, it is putting my girlfriend into a conundrum.

Her whole way of life up to this point (she is 22; I’m 25) has been attending school. She is about to graduate with a bachelors in Biology, and before we became aware of peak ____, her plan was to continue on to medical school to become a general practicioner.

Our worries are that the precarious system will not hold out long enough to have 4 years of school (whose teaching foundations are based in today’s technology) and 2+ years of residency pan out…

…and hypothetically, if it did, what would the coming austerity (medicare cuts in this case), unemployment (and thus, loss of private insurance), and other financial factors mean when it comes to the bottom line of working in some hospital or local practice?

Is it best to bite the bullet now, and just graduate with a (useless) bachelors in Biology, and keep working service jobs while they last to pay the bills; or risk student loans (at worst) or waste her parent’s money, if they were so inclined (at best) just to hedge on that status quo?

PS: Emotionally speaking, this is challenging as well, considering breaking this news to her parents would probably make her seem like a cook.

 

  • Fri, Nov 19, 2010 - 06:02am

    #2
    Peak Prosperity Admin

    Peak Prosperity Admin

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    Re: Is medical school worth it?

A very tough decision. 

I am just finishing my residency in Radiology (talk about questionable for the future – highly technical and expensive tests will be the first things on the chopping block) and if I knew then what I know now, there’s no way I would have chosen my current specialty. I’ve got a good job for next year and I’ll work hard at it until they tell me I can’t, but the writing is on the wall for me. 

For your situation,medicine in general still will be relevant.  It will surely change, but people are still going to get sick.  A general practioner (family practice/internal medicine) still should have a vital role.  (Maybe consider general surgery?)   Not sure how you’ll get paid, but physicians made a living long before the days of private insurance and medicare.

You make a good point on how much technology is a part of medicine, but the knowledge from the past isn’t gone.  When there are no more MRI’s or expensive treatments available, we’ll dig up the methods of the yesteryear.  They weren’t as good, but still much better than nothing.   Also consider that once the gluttony is stripped from our lives, our general health will be much better overall IMO.  Without the resources to dedicate to the extremely inefficient production of red meat, we’ll return to a more plant based diet = more healthy.  We’ll walk/bike more and get healthier. Physicians will likely do more real illness treatment rather than long term disease managment.

There are lot of opportunities at medical school to focus on less specialized medicine.  Do rotations in foreign countries that are operating on much less than here.  Do small town rotations that focus more on general care vs. subspecialized treatment of rare diseases or advanced cancers.

There’s more I could share, but I’ve got to run.  Good luck.

  • Fri, Nov 19, 2010 - 07:20am

    #3
    Peak Prosperity Admin

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    Re: Is medical school worth it?

One might take your money, your house or your belonging. But no one will ever take away your knowledge, your education and what’s in your head. These were my father’s words when I was a kid. It could not be more true today to my opinion. Your girlfreind has the chance to study, it would be crazy to stop it I sincerly believe.

  • Fri, Nov 19, 2010 - 11:55am

    #4
    Peak Prosperity Admin

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    Re: Is medical school worth it?

She should continue on.  She will be more regulated than physicians in the past, have less freedom in her clinical decision making, have more paperwork, have more responsibility, have more expenses, and make less money but she will still have a valuable skill that will be in demand.  On the other hand, a biology degree will be nearly useless and most service sector jobs will barely allow her to eke out a living.

  • Fri, Nov 19, 2010 - 12:18pm

    #5
    Peak Prosperity Admin

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    Re: Is medical school worth it?

If you knew the world was going to go “Mad Max” in a year or two, maybe it would make sense to put your energies elsewhere in the meantime.  However, when things are going to fall apart is far from clear and a decline in living standards is far more likely than complete breakdown.  Being a GP is going to be a great post-peak skill to have.

My main concerns would be school debt and government run health care.  Large amounts of school debt could be a killer but it might be worth the risk.  Also if the decline is slow and the government tries to take more control over the medical field, being a doctor might not be what you expect.

  • Fri, Nov 19, 2010 - 12:33pm

    #6
    Peak Prosperity Admin

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    Re: Is medical school worth it?

Large and small ruminant veterinarian?  The skill set would transfer easily in a Mad Max scenario,  less “big gov.” interference, and the farming community who’ll be served(the’re last to go hungry) are just some of the reasons i’m dissuading my son from following me into Optometry or traditional Medicine.

another thought,robie(husband,father,farmer,optometrist)

  • Fri, Nov 19, 2010 - 01:32pm

    #7
    Peak Prosperity Admin

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    Re: Is medical school worth it?

[quote=dschroeder01]

I am just finishing my residency in Radiology (talk about questionable for the future – highly technical and expensive tests will be the first things on the chopping block) and if I knew then what I know now, there’s no way I would have chosen my current specialty. I’ve got a good job for next year and I’ll work hard at it until they tell me I can’t, but the writing is on the wall for me. 

[/quote]

When I was in school, the radiologists were hands-down the smartest “guys” in the room. Their knowledge of disease is significantly more comprehensive than a general practitioner or a specialist. I don’t see how this could be a disadvantage in any situation.

Jeff

  • Fri, Nov 19, 2010 - 01:57pm

    #8
    Peak Prosperity Admin

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    Re: Is medical school worth it?

The most recession proof profession there is- I would argue that medicine/healing will become even more valuable in dire times, easily worth the debt.  I have 3 doctors in the family, they have never spent a single day wondering how to service their debt.  I on the other hand got an architect’s degree.  While I am glad I did it, I had no idea how “artsy” it would be, making it severely recession prone, not sure it was worth the money.

  • Fri, Nov 19, 2010 - 03:35pm

    #9
    Peak Prosperity Admin

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    Re: Is medical school worth it?

Do you think there is enough time, 6+ years,  to actually go from a student to a doctor?

I appreciate the replies thus far, and I know that people will always be sick and/or injured.

  • Fri, Nov 19, 2010 - 06:21pm

    #10
    Peak Prosperity Admin

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    Re: Is medical school worth it?

I think physicians will remain a strong if not even stronger force in any future society.  If you look at even primitive society, the medicine men/women rank right up there with the chiefs.  You may have to do a little more voodoo and power of suggestion type healing, but hell, half of what we do nowadays is voodoo anyway.Wink 

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