Choosing a Health Care Career
At a dinner party the other night, one young man, Mike, a newly graduated anesthesiologist, was "holding court," answering "doctor questions" from some of the other guests. One guest, a man with a son in college and a daughter finishing high school, asked Mike if he had to do it over again, would he become a physician. Mike, without hesitation, responded "no."
I responded that I always encourage young people to consider occupational therapy as a career, and Mike stated that his cousin who is a speech and language pathologist (SLP) says the same thing that I, the occupational therapist, say.
When I asked why he would have chosen a different profession, Mike was quick to divulge that he had over $100,000 in student loan debt, as did his doctor wife. They have a new house and a baby. That all sounds idyllic; but the dark cloud of all this debt makes life somewhat scary for this couple in their early thirties.
These are honest folks but, still, I could hardly believe that anyone of any reasonable intelligence and maturity could rack up so much debt, even if for the honorable pursuit of becoming a doctor. So I looked online, and searched "average student loan debt after medical school".
According to http://www.cbsnews.com/ in a September 2013 report, I discovered that at that time, $166,750 was the average debt after medical school. The article indicated that it would take about thirty years of doctoring to recoup that money. That would put your average doctor into his or her fifties or even sixties. What doctor could ever retire with such a financial dilemma?
I don't remember even having any student debt, but then I went to college and occupational school in the early 1970s when the subject of student loans never made the front page news. And even when I returned to school in the mid-1990s to complete my Master's Degree, huge amounts of student college debt did not seem to be an issue for many people at that point in time either.
I got back online and tried to find out what current students of occupational therapy are accruing as debt, but I could not find any data.
So I would be curious to hear from readers, especially new graduates of OT school, their personal experience with student loan debts.