Is medical school worth it?

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bmcreider's picture
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.

 

dschroeder01's picture
dschroeder01
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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.

SailAway's picture
SailAway
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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.

ao's picture
ao
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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.

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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.

robie robinson's picture
robie robinson
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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)

JAG's picture
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Re: Is medical school worth it?
dschroeder01 wrote:

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. 

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

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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.

bmcreider's picture
bmcreider
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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.

docmims's picture
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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 

Dogs_In_A_Pile's picture
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Re: Is medical school worth it?
bmcreider wrote:

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.

I would offer that the real question is "Do YOU think there is enough time?"  Make your decision based on when you think things are going to unravel.  All the responses above have great points, but it ultimately comes down to your specific situation and your plan based on when you think things are going to happen.  FWIW, I think 6 years is is enough time.

Right now I am trying to figure out what to do with my Montgomery GI Bill eligibility.  Do I go back for a year and a half to get another Master's?  (Engineering Management) or do I target something that I think will be more useful if things start to fall apart?

Old Dominion University has a 2 year Nursing program that has my interest piqued.  I'm pretty sure that kind of knowledge will always have value.

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Re: Is medical school worth it?

I would not spend my time in learning medicine where the whole medical science theories are based on frauds up to now. You learn to kill people instead of healing them thoug you will get told different. You learn that to heal is impossible, though medical industrial sector outdraws any alternate truthfinding science that proofs the opposite! In the US its evne hard to find any alternate medical practitioneers, industry is outdrawing them with the help of your government, to make the pharma even richer. Sure everything is intended for all your best.

This hughe medical fraud will be revealed to mainstream when we overcome our monetary system! The medical industrial sector has killed more people than holocaust, and they make us believe that we need them through the means of scaremongering!

I know people wont beliefe this, and even if i present them facts they even more rely on their beliefs. I dont want to go into depth here cause it doesnt really belong here, but if you are interested you should search for Dr. Stefan Lanka, and research the matter on your own.

And this is pretty important, to gain awareness of that, cause its about your health!

PS: People like to criticize Lanka on the basis of belief, they criticize well he has another believe than we do. But in fact he ask for scientifical proofs where there have never been presented any. And by doing this he exploits the fraud....anyway big story!

Hope you choose the right option, wish you all the best!

 

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Re: Is medical school worth it?
docmims wrote:

 If you look at even primitive society, the medicine men/women rank right up there with the chiefs. 

Thats the problem with medicical science, its more of an institution that fights for their Rationale like the church in middle ages had to, than is interested in truthfinding processes.

 

as Goethe already found out:

("Here was the medicine, the patients died and nobody asked who recovered, thus we have ravaged with infernal electuaries, in these valleys, these mountains, much worse than the pest, I myself have given the poison to thousands, they withered away, I must experience that the unabashed murderers are being praised.") <- its the same to day, nothing has changed!

http://www.whale.to/b/lanka.html

Lauritzen's picture
Lauritzen
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Re: Is medical school worth it?

If you don't plan on getting married and you are willing to sacrifice for others go for it. Don't do it for the $$$ that game is over.

Poet's picture
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Re: Is medical school worth it?

 

Crushing debt could be a major issue since student loans cannot be discharged in a bankruptcy. (Doctors used to be the biggest abusers in that area since they would still have jobs and could rebuild credit very quickly.) There is also a large number of doctors in the U.S. and both Medicare and the insurance industry are getting tougher with payments each year. However, I suspect employment prospects will remain more excellent than in most any other field, no matter how bad the economy gets - meaning she'll likely have steady income to pay off those loans, and there are some programs that allow for debt forgiveness for public service.

I am no seer. However, I subscribe to John Michael Greer's (The Long Descent) suggestion that there will be a series of crises, each followed by time to barely catch a collective breath before the next crisis, but not a total and instantaneous collapse. The timeline he talks about is one of decades. Peak oil is not peak collapse. So likely she would have time to get that degree, do her internship, do her residency, and then get started with really paying off those massive loans. The earlier she can lock in a low rate, the better, as it is very likely possible that rates will increase over time if there is inflation. Besides, if things truly collapse within 6 years, she might not even have to pay off those loans! :-P

I would suggest while learning to also keep in mind low-tech diagnosis and treatment methods used in Third World countries, rural areas, and in the last century; wound care (gunshots, knifes, blunt trauma); and obstetrics. If not medical school and six years, then consider being a Physician's Assistant (cheaper degree, better hours, decent pay),  emergency paramedic, ER nurse, nurse practitioner, certified nurse midwife - all offer fewer years, less debt, and yet practical skills that will take her far.

Poet

 

robie robinson's picture
robie robinson
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Re: Is medical school worth it?

While i would rather large animal vet. medicine. there is NO greater worth than knowledge!

 

robie (or is it wisdom)

 

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poisonivy113
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Re: Is medical school worth it?

As a physician myself, I can say there are lots of reasons to not go into medicine. Dealing with increasing government regulations is a huge problem. Whiny demanding patients are another (in what other field to people firmly believe that they should not have to pay for the service your provide?) There is lots wrong with the infrastructure of medicine itself. 

That said, as another poster correctly pointed out, doctors have always been able to make a living. If society completely falls apart, you could still barter your services for things you need. If you wait tables...not so much. 

Personally, I don't think things will fall apart to the point where society won't function (ie "Mad Max") soon. You'd have time to do 4 years of medical school plus 3 or more years of residency (no residency is less than 3 years). If she still wants to do it, no reason not to. BUT i would be VERY careful about incurring any more debt. I believe that the greater risk to your future is having a six figure student loan debt that cannot be discharged under any circumstances- this is much greater than the risk that society will fall apart before training is finished. In light of your concerns, I would live ridiculosly frugally during med school and residency- and attend the least expensive medical school possible- in order to lessen the debt burden.

A good blog for issues in medicine, especially debt is here: http://medicinesux.wordpress.com/ 

catastrophist's picture
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Re: Is medical school worth it?

I was thinking about dental school.  Including the prereqs, it would take me until spring of 2017 to finish if I start in spring 2011.  And there would be over 155,000 in debt.  Given the coming collapse, I've decided not to do it.  It's too bad.  I finally discovered what I wanted to do with my life, and it's too late to pursue it.

 

Dogs_In_A_Pile's picture
Dogs_In_A_Pile
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Re: Is medical school worth it?
catastrophist wrote:

I was thinking about dental school.  Including the prereqs, it would take me until spring of 2017 to finish if I start in spring 2011.  And there would be over 155,000 in debt.  Given the coming collapse, I've decided not to do it.  It's too bad.  I finally discovered what I wanted to do with my life, and it's too late to pursue it.

It's never too late. 

If you have discovered what you really want to do with your life - do it.  The "coming collapse" isn't a given.  At least not in the sense that any of us know when it will happen and how bad it will be.

Don't let the fear of the uncertain rule your life and keep you from pursuing your dream of becoming a dentist.  Instead let it guide your efforts into a razor sharp focus to achieve your dream.

SagerXX's picture
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Re: Is medical school worth it?

Seems to me that even if one is unable to finish 6+ years of school/residency/etc. -- say a total collapse happens in 4 years -- one will have whatever skills one has if/when SHTF before final certification as an official doc/dentist/vet.  Would my community turn away somebody that wanted to join because they only had X% of their med school completed?  Negative!  My wife & I have a friend that is a nurse and I keep telling her that if SHTF to come find us immediately -- we'll take her skills and figure out all the rest (food/shelter/etc.) for her as we go.  And if I had unlimited fundage I'd be building a community clinic or small hospital or emergency medical services center and attempting to recruit a CC-aware G.P. as of yesterday.

Viva -- Sager

bluestone's picture
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Re: Is medical school worth it?

BMCreider,

I am a urologist and have been in practice for 4 years.  This is after 4 years of medical school, 6 years of residency, and 1 year of fellowship (according to sosMsos, this would be an 11 year education in fraud).  I can tell you now that the waters in medicine are pretty choppy.  Many of the family physicians I know now are having a really difficult time keeping their heads above water.  Most have given up their private practices and are now employees of hospitals or a hospital system.  The nearest medical school to me is Albany Medical Center in NY.  I spoke to one of the medical students recently, and he told me that his tuition is $50,000 per year.  Im not sure what the state medical schools are costing now.

To break even in my urology group, each doc has to pull in over $30,000 per month.  While we are doing ok at this juncture, as reimbursement cuts proceed, its going to get harder and harder to meet the bottom line.  Hard to know exactly what the return on investment will be, but if your girlfriend goes to a private medical school, she needs to seriously consider how she'll pay off her debts.  maybe hyperinflation will negate her debts, but I wouldn't bank on it.

From my perspective, modern medicine is from top to bottom and oil dependent field.  I tend to agree with Nicole Foss, who believes that once we hit the downslope of peak oil, modern medicine will be largely unavailable.  

If your girlfriend goes to medical school, make it a state sponsored school so she won't accrue so much debt.  I would encourage hear to really focus on training that would give her a lot of hands on experience such learning some surgical skills like lancing abscesses, delivering babies, set fractures, and certainly learning some alternative medicine.  Due to todays medical legal climate, many general practitioners and their training programs are very limited in what they are allowed to do.  

Maybe before embarking on medical school, she can take a year off and work on some type of permaculture farm.  (ie go volunteer to work for that Will Allen).  Having the knowledge, ability, and skills to grow food may be more important than knowing how to practice medicine

Best of luck

Brian

 

catastrophist's picture
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Re: Is medical school worth it?

Well, dental was a choice I was thinking about making because of the collapse.  Clearly, it's a great skill to have a in a post-peak world.  My first choice was higher academics in the humanities, but there's no future in that, and there never was any money.  With dentistry, I thought I could become admitted to a well-fortified community if TSHTF.  If it does not HTF, then I could make a lot of money and actually help people.  A third choice was an MBA, which would involve less debt, and less time, but would have no post-collapse value, and even without a collapse, the morality of making money by buying and selling pieces of paper is something I question, although former classmates of mine have gotten rich from it. and I have the test score to get into a good school.

Guy McPherson is anticipating a dieoff this decade, and I agree, so I'm apprehensive about any kind of school.  OTOH I don't have the cash to even begin making the preparation Martenson recommends. 

 

bmcreider's picture
bmcreider
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Re: Is medical school worth it?

I appreciate all the replies thus far,

So does she ;).

 

Are there better avenues to take that pay off now but teach skills applicable to the future? (Veterinarian was mentioned, for example)

Or is going into a declining field of general practice the best option at this point, with the application process already finished? (Should she settle for RN instead? That's one idea - a bit late, but oh well)

bluestone's picture
bluestone
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Re: Is medical school worth it?

bmcreider

she may consider PA school.  It is a much shorter pathway to getting good clinical experience without being tied down for so long.  

Brian

Full Moon's picture
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Re: Is medical school worth it?

  If you are called to be a healer my advice is to  learn the Identifying  and Harvesting of Medicinal plants and get the education of EMT and the basics   .      What ever you decide  your beliefs are going to be questioned .... Am I doing this to truly help people ? Am I doing this for the money ?Do I  Truly believe what I have been taught and the way things are run ?    Am I really going to be allowed to help people or will there be too much Govt. red tape ? Am I really doing these people good ?       You have soul searching to do ....     Healing is not a career decision ...  it is a calling .   You know what I mean ? It  should be one of  the deepest convictions you have  not to be taken lightly .. as do I have enough time  or money .

FM

 

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MelissaMunroe
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Re:

Not many people have the opportunity to get into medical school so if your girlfriend has gotten into one, she is lucky. You should definitely ask her to pursue a medical degree; if afterwards she does not want to be a practicing doctor, she can also become a clinical research associate or a medical writer. You can learn a bit about medical writing and editing from http://www.researchmedics.com/research-purposal-editing/
 

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