This WSJ article was only an “advice” piece on how to get out of debt. What they really showed, however, was how tough it is financially to be a doctor. Yes, I went there. It is tough financially to finally make the good living they deserve. Look at this dude.
- Michael Hackman is 33 and finally makes a nice paycheck. He earns about $200,000 a year as an internist. He also lives outside of Sacramento and California is not a cheap place to live.
- His loan payments consume about a third of his after-tax income.
- “I really like being a doctor, but from a financial standpoint it may not have been the best decision,” he says.
- Dr. Hackman had about $160,000 in debt when he graduated from the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine in 2009. The loans ballooned to $240,000 after three years of residency (he switched from pediatrics to internal medicine) and a year as a researcher in an oncology lab.
- During those years, he was earning about $50,000 annually while living in New York. He didn’t borrow any additional money, but his loans were in forbearance, meaning no payment was due but interest accrued and was added to the principal balance. Most of his loans carry about a 7% interest rate, he says.
- Dr. Hackman pays at least $2,000 a month toward his student loans now and hopes to repay the remaining $220,000 he owes within the next decade. He also pays about $2,000 in rent, $1,500 in health insurance and $800 in car payments monthly.
- He has no other debt. His wife, however, has about $80,000 in student loans, which are in forbearance because she is serving in the Air Force.
To summarize, doctors lose their youth to their education and training. While others are making a living, we are accumulating debt. The medical schools, like other colleges, keep raising their tuition rates because the damn government keeps giving out loans. This means that this trend will only get worse. Some of the brightest and the best used to get into medical school and after they did they were sucked into a vortex of loans, stress and burnout.
This wasn’t even a story about that except that it was. People will bitch and moan that $200K is a great salary. The truth is that that is actually a very high salary for an internist but it is only because he is in California. We want to continue to get the smart kids to apply to medical school but why would they when they can go into the tech industry and potentially make a lot more? Do people not want the brightest people treating them? I guess not.