Shadowing a Doctor

October 25, 2013

Most medical students face a common hurdle – finance. The cost of tuition, living and boarding expenses work out to a tidy sum and most students find this unaffordable. If you are one of them and are wondering if you will be able to afford to become a doctor, read on…


Student Anna learning how to weigh a baby on the neonatal unit in Tanzania. The Best Options For Financing Your Medical School Dreams 

Though there is no magic strategy to make medical school education more affordable, there are definitely some things you can do to reduce the financial burden that you will be carrying. You must chalk out a plan of action to figure out what will work best for you in terms of affordability. Even before you decide how you are going to organize and manage finances, understand exactly what costs are involved. Here are the things that you will have to do: 

  • Family contribution– Determine if your family is able to financially contribute towards your medical school education. From the school’s perspective it is every student’s responsibility to bear the cost of medical school education. However, not every family has the means to put aside a sufficient amount of funds to cover all the costs. 
  • Scholarships and loans– Once you know how much you can expect from your parents or family, start looking at options like scholarships or grants. Scholarships are very different from loans and you do not have to repay them. But the prerequisite for acquiring most scholarships is that you have excellent grades in college and your MCAT scores have to be exemplary as well. So, if you are planning on applying for a scholarship, be prepared to work very hard in your college years. 

Factors such as academic achievement, financial need and any affiliation with specific organizations play a part in scholarship eligibility. In some cases, this might be dependent on a service obligation that you are willing to take up. Conduct a sufficient amount of research, identify the scholarships that are available and ensure that you fill out all the necessary applications before their respective deadlines.


  • Loans– Service-based loans are very common. Loan repayment programs are typically sponsored by local, state, national governments. Some private organizations also provide loans for a medical education. Once you have completed your residency, you will be recruited into medical practice in underserved areas. The service you are required to provide may cover 2-4 years. This is largely dependent on the number of years that you have received support. The financial aid office at the medical school will be able to help you with information regarding these loans.


  • Set a strategy– When it comes to organizing finances for a medical education, planning is all-important. Store all your communication, documents, financial information, academic records and any other related information that you might have gathered. Make photocopies of all the relevant documents and store the originals carefully.  


Draw A Game Plan

The important thing is to establish a working relationship with a good financial aid officer. They are aware of all the technicalities and workings of medical school funding and will be able to help you with details and solutions. Most importantly, start early. Planning in advance gives you the most scope to zero-in on solutions that suit you the best.