What Bugs Me Today II
I couldn't believe it when I stumbled across this British medical student's shameless plea for donations. I'll give you the recap so that you don't need to click on it and drive up this loser's hit count-- he's a 4th year medical student in Manchester, U.K. (over there it's a 5 year program) and he's nearly 30,000 British pounds in debt. He's begging randomly to the internet community to send him donations because he doesn't want to 'graduate in debt'.
Please. Call the whaaaaa-mbulance. In Canada, since deregulation of medical school tuition in the mid-1990's a student would be unbelievably lucky to finish medical school with only 60K in debt (assuming the very rough conversion of 1:2 for British pounds to Canadian dollars). Not to mention the fact that we then have to make payments on this debt as we complete anywhere from 2-6 years of residency at which time our pay starts at $45K yearly. In fact, if you divide the weekly salary by the average number of hours a medical resident works in a week, we almost make minimum wage.
I admit, my debt is on the high end of normal. I didn't have a family to support, so I don't have that excuse, but I did put myself through a master's degree and a second undergraduate degree before medical school without outside assistance. And until the government student loan program wakes up and realizes that the max allowance of 10K a year is ridiculous for a medical student (whose yearly tuition and fees nearly doubles that and it's not like we have the flexibility in our schedules to work-part time through school), the bulk of my debt is with the bank. I could sell my first, second and third born to the bank and I'd still end up owing them in the end.
I don't usually feel sorry for myself when it comes to my financial situation. I don't begrudge the loan system-- without it, medical school wouldn't have been an option for me. I don't even resent the amount of tuition that we're expected to pay-- even my $16K yearly tuition is heavily subsidized by the Canadian taxpayers. But it's difficult to keep your head above water for the first few years making payments that eat up 50% of your take-home salary.
On one hand, I think it deters people from primary care (family medicine, pediatrics) where salaries are traditionally lower and overhead traditionally higher. But on the other hand, I wonder how my specialist colleagues in 5 and 6 year residencies can manage with the high debt and low salary for even longer than I have to.
I don't love being my age (i.e. not a spring chicken) still having to rent. There is so much travelling I want to do but unless it involves camping and is accessible by car it's unlikely to happen any time soon. Even having a baby may strain the finances more than I care to think about. But as long as I manage to make ends meet until I'm making real money, I know the debt will be manageable. It just means our first house will be small, we'll make due with our car until it dies a natural death, we won't be taking any vacations and we won't be contributing to RRSP's until we're in our late 30's. But that's not so bad, right? Um... right?
I guess that's why people like this guy irk me so much. What makes HIM so special that he deserves to graduate debt-free? Why shouldn't he have the same concerns as the rest of us who chose a life in medicine regardless of a distinct lack of rich relatives? I don't begrudge the people who had a hand in getting through school-- but I don't think I would have asked it of my parents even if they COULD afford it.
I just wish people would stop assuming that Mr. Couz and I are on easy street because of my title. Trust me... right now, it's no financial windfall.
(Thanks to Kevin, M.D. whose post brought this wing-nut to my attention)