The Increasing Cost of Medical Schools Is a Big Contributing Factor to Doctor Shortages

It is no secret that medical school is expensive. In fact, did you know that the average medical student pays about $49,842 every year just to study medicine? Although this cost reflects the cost of medical training in the United States, it is also a reflection of the state of affairs in other medical schools around the world. Funnily enough, this cost is actually the expense of studying in a public medical school. So what do you think would be the cost of schooling in a private medical school? I will leave that for you to answer.

Medical Student

Medical Student

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Every year, the cost of schooling in medical schools continues to skyrocket leaving most medical students, especially those from poorer homes, to rely on other means to pay the overwhelming fees or consider other options including considering a change in career path.

Why is medical school expensive?

When you consider the depth of training an average medical student undergoes in medical school, it becomes easier to understand why medical school is expensive. As a medical student in your preclinical studies, new to the system, and still finding your way around campus, you are thrust with a list of materials to get without a care in the world whether you are financially stable enough to handle the strain.

Sadly, the expenses do not go down with time, on the contrary, they get even more overwhelming. During these periods of buying textbooks and trying to survive medical school, you also have to pay a non-pocket-friendly full-time tuition fee. Many people are of the opinion that the high cost of medical training stems from the intensity of training medical students have to pass through and the materials needed to give them a quality training experience so as not to produce quacks. These training materials include the cadavers, other teaching aids, laboratory equipment, and much more. In fact, the real cost of medical education may just be small in comparison to the tuition the students pay. The Director of Princeton University’s reply when he was asked why Princeton University seems to do so well supports this claim. According to the Director, Princeton University seems to be doing so well because it has no medical school, thus showing the financial strain medical training imposes not only on the student but also on the institution.

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However, others claim that the high cost of medical education stems from the high demand for the training and not from the actual quality and implications of the training itself.

Effects of the expenses of medical school on the dreams and aspirations of medical students

Imagine being told that you have to pay a total of about $200,000 just on tuition in order to study a course at the university. Well, that is the harsh reality every medical student is forced to face. The cost of medical education has successfully limited the number of students receiving medical education in the world. It has achieved this in two ways: First, by making it difficult for students in medical school as the cost of schooling has caused many students to drop out and consider other career options. Secondly, the current cost of medical schools has succeeded in dissuading aspirants who wish to study in these schools.

But what is the effect of the high cost of medical schools on the number of doctors we have in each country?

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the United States could face a shortage of 37,800 to 124,000 doctors by 2034. Currently, the ratio of doctors to people is so low that it greatly affects the quality of healthcare delivered. Currently, there are 295 physicians per 100,000 US population and a total of 985,000 licensed doctors in the United States. A reduction in the number of doctors by 124,000, therefore, means that by 2034, there will be a total of 861,000 licensed doctors in the United States, and considering the exponential rate of population growth, it is difficult to tell exactly what the ratio of doctors to people in the United States would be by then.

However, the United States is not the only country in the world with a shortage of doctors. In fact, countries in Africa have it worse. In places like Liberia for instance, there are about 14 doctors to a million people. In fact, in the whole country with 4.5 million people, there are only 298 medical doctors.

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By reducing the number of aspiring medical doctors and the number of students in medical school, the high cost of medical education is a very significant contributor to the shortage of doctors around the world.

Is there an alternative?

Luckily, despite the financial burdens, medical school isn’t a life sentence of suffering and struggle to make ends meet while contemplating if you are actually cut out for the whole saga. To ease the financial burden, you can get student loans as a medical student that will help you deal with these burdens. Many sites offer student loans at comfortable and friendly rates. Companies such as Earnest, for instance, give student loans and do not charge origination, prepayment, early payment, or extra payment fees thus making the loans easily accessible to students out there. Also, the loans offered are unique to each applicant’s profile and needs. Student loans have helped many go through medical school, and it will be a nice thought if you consider it when it seems as though the financial burdens are overwhelming. The medical school itself is stressful, and you do not need to compound the stress of finances to the already existing stress it presents. You could comfortably pay back these loans after you are done with medical school.

Conclusion

No doubt, medical school is hard. In fact, it is harder when you have to deal with not just school work but finances too. How do you pay your tuition fee? Where would you get the money to buy that text the lecturer recommended? What about the other medical tools you need to have? Tools like your stethoscope, war coats, pen torches, tendon hammers, and so on are basic things every medical student, especially those in their clinical years, must have. But where do you find the money for that? If you do not have money to buy all these things, the odds are that you are not alone. Thousands of medical students face the same dilemma. Some drop out after they get the full financial gist of what they signed up for, thus resulting in the shortages of doctors we have; however, a few others keep striving with the hope that it will get better. Their secret is so simple. They rely on student loans and get the job done. Years later, when they are working and earning good money they repay these loans bit by bit. You too can do the same else the current shortage of doctors the world currently has will continue to remain.

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References

Average Cost of Medical School [2022]: Yearly + Total Costs (educationdata.org)

8 key stats on the impending physician shortage (beckersasc.com)

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