Shadowing a DoctorJuly 4, 2012
Gaining a medical degree to qualify as a doctor takes a long time and involves long hours of study. Medical degrees are also expensive, with prolonged tuition and more study in comparison to other degrees. Because of this, many students and their parents worry about how to finance medical degrees. In most countries, such as the UK, students studying medical degrees are awarded bursaries and grants. This is in contrast to other degree courses, where students finance all their studies through loans and personal finance. But medical school bursaries and grants are not all-inclusive and students also require student loans to pay for their tuition and support themselves. As a consequence, medical school students often finish their degree with debts in excess of £20,000. While this figure sounds daunting, student loans borrowed by medical school students do not need to be paid back until the student is in receipt of an income.
Many students from poorer backgrounds find that the high costs of medical degrees prevent them from considering a career in medicine, fearing a lifetime of loan repayments. However, unlike loans from banks or other lending institutions, student loan repayments are calculated against income; the higher you earn, the more is paid back, and vice versa. Qualifying as a doctor also means it likely that a student will eventually earn a higher than average salary. Doctors are some of the highest earning professionals, so any debt accrued through study is often worthwhile when you consider the potential salary a medical degree may help you earn.
While a system of tuition fees are in place throughout the UK, none of the money needs paying in advance, which means even a medical student from the poorest of backgrounds can attend medical school, and not have to worry about paying for tuition until he or she has graduated. But as with any degree course, learning to live on a budget is an integral part of studying at medical school. Medical school students soon learn that bursaries, grants and student loans don’t go far, so living within your means and learning to budget for things like rent, food, books and other essentials, is an important aspect of medical school study.
Medicine has long had the reputation of being an occupation for the wealthy. Historically, many medical school students did come from privileged backgrounds. To ensure a more diverse profession, more and more students from less affluent backgrounds are being encouraged to enter medicine. However, many more are still being put off by the high costs attributed to studying medicine. While the costs of a medical degree may be high, the help awarded throughout study, and the rewards of a highly paid and satisfying career after graduation, make studying medicine a worthwhile career choice regardless of the economic background a student comes from.