The Extra Costs and Fees of Being a Medical StudentMarch 1, 2014
You already know that medical school is going to put you into some type of debt. The tuition and textbook costs alone makes the cost of attending prohibitive for many who fear seeing all those zeros on their bills. However, as a medical student, your costs do not stop at tuition and books. There are a number of hidden costs as well that you’ll need to be prepared to fund. Don’t forget to factor the following items into your budget:
Instruments: Yes, you’ll need to purchase your own doctor’s kit of medical instruments, which includes your stethoscope, reflex hammer, blood pressure cuff, and dissecting equipment, and other diagnostic tools. These are typically for sale at your campus bookstore, and there is often an opportunity to test-run these instruments before you buy them. The good thing is that these instruments are built to last. The bad thing is that outfitting your kit can cost you up to $1,000 in your first year, more if you need to replace any faulty or missing items.
National Boards: During your second and fourth years of medical school, you’ll sit for the first parts the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). These are costs you’ll be able to plan for, but be prepared to pay nearly $600 each time you take a part of the USMLE during medical school, more if you fail to pass on your first attempt.
Travel Costs: When you begin your rotations, you’ll be traveling to locations away from your school and residence. Be prepared to pay for these travel costs, whether by train, bus, taxi, or car. Discounts can often be found for medical students, though plan to spend up to $500 per year as you progress through medical school.
Health Insurance: Unless you are still covered under your parents’ health insurance plan, and many students are these days as the government keeps raising the age that health insurance companies are required to cover dependents under, you’ll be paying out-of-pocket for your own health insurance. Typically, universities are able to negotiate a fair price for their students. Still, plan to pay up to $300 a year for your own health insurance coverage.
Wardrobe: You’ll need scrubs and other appropriate attire for the hospital and lab. There is no telling how much you’ll spend in this category, as your own personal style and aesthetics (and budget) will determine how much you can spend in this category. Also, if you happen to gain or lose weight during medical school, you’ll be replacing parts of your wardrobe as well. Allocate several hundred a year for this expense category, more if you are a style maven.
Technology: In our ever-digital world, you’ll need the latest tech gear to keep you on point, connected, and learning. A high-functioning, dependable computer is required, and a smartphone seems to be a mandatory tool as well. You’ll want to purchase insurance for these sensitive items, since you never know when they might fail you (or when you might spill coffee on them!). Don’t hesitate to make an investment in this category. This technology will be your lifeline to learning and career opportunities.
Much like the medical school application process, hidden expenses are a part of the medical student’s life. Start saving and planning now for those expenses, and you won’t be caught off guard when the bill comes due. — Post by Madelaine Kingsbury.