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Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by jfitzpat, Dec 22, 2005.
In part depends on the type of debt. The subsidized portion of your student loan will be taken care of while you're in school. The unsub you're responsible for interest while you're in school. Hopefully you were able to lock in the low interest rate for your $100,000 debt under a consolidation plan.
The bigger part of the answer is - depends on how badly you want to do medicine and how badly you hate your current profession. The fact that you have your wife bringing in some money will certainly help as well while you goto school. Besides, there may be a possibility that you get a scholarship to goto school, or your state school isn't as expensive, etc.
Money is an issue but don't let it be the main issue holding you back. It can be done. If you don't do it now, will you forever keep wondering and asking yourself...I wish I had given it a shot atleast?
Thanks for the reply. About half of my loans are consolidated at 2.77%. I am told that any subsequent federal loans can be rolled into the preexisting consolidation. The other half, unfortunately, consists of variable rate private loans. I try to project my numbers liberally so that I have an idea of the most expensive scenario.
I think what I really want to ask about is job prospects and salary, but I know that whenever that word comes up, the poster gets lit up for only caring about money. I graduated from a locally respected law school near the top of my class and still had to get out and fight hard for a job. Anyone who thinks every lawyer is pulling six figures at a big firm is really mistaken. Is medicine like this because 300k in debt with a marginal job would be a death knell? Also, It would just suck to be forced into a higher paying specialty solely because of money. What could you expect to earn as a pediatrician or family practitioner after residency? Enough to pay $2500 a month for 20 years?
for objective data, check out resources like www.salary.com. what i've gathered that site is that the median salary for the lower paid specialties like fp and peds is around $120 to $130k. honestly, as compared with law, i don't think there are any physicians who can't get relatively high paying jobs (of course, i'm defining high paying as low six figures), so there is some security of income.
imo, with a couple of factors under control, it's feasible. one, could you start taking the prereqs while holding down your job? it might take a year or so longer, but you'll get to maintain your income. two, i'd highly advise taking them at a state supported school instead of a private school. instead of paying $30k+, you might be able to take everything you need for $8 to $10k. if you pay out of pocket as you go along, it doesn't add to that debt. three, what's your state medical school situation? do you live in a state that has an affordable school that caters to instate students? if you do, you could conceivably get away with tuition as low as $10 to $15k a year. that makes the debt so much easier.
if you don't have any easy financial solutions like a cheap state school, it wouldn't be the end of the world to devote the next three years or so to reducing the law school debt while taking maybe one prereq at a time. as mentioned above, make paying off the private loans your top financial priority. after that, focus on unsubsidized. ignore the subsidized -- the interest rate is low, and you can defer them without interest accruing while in school.
Exlawgrrl is the best guide there is for JD to MD...
I think you'll want to go to your state-supported school if at all possible. You need to consider, of course, when you make your "lifetime" financial plan that, when you finish residency, you'll be around 40 - and it will be time to sock-away significant amounts of retirement money in addition to your loan payment. If I didn't have a very healthy 401(k) balance from my current employer, I wouldn't be able to go to med school at all (of course, I'm over 40 now).
What I'm concerned about is that I believe there are limits on the total amount of federally-insured student debt that you can carry. I really don't know - I'm just now starting to learn to navigate the financial aid maze myself, but I believe that you cannot have more than about $180K in federal student debt. That's not a deal-breaker if you have good credit and can qualify for non-federal loans, but it will cost you more.
I apologize in advance if I'm wrong!!
I have also read that the limit for federal money is somewhere around $180K. I live in Nebraska and the state medical school isn't nearly as expensive as the private (Creighton), but it is still around $80K in tuition and fees.
I really would like to keep working while getting my prereqs, but I'm having trouble with two obstacles. First, we are expecting our first child in a few weeks and most of the science classes at the local university meet two nights a week for lecture and one night a week for lab. When that is paired in with the 50+ hours a week that I currently work, I think it would put too much of a strain on my family. Second, no school, public or private, in my area offers either Organic Chemistry at night. I would love to hear about how other people deal with this issue. Thanks for all your replies.
Boy, I hear ya about those nighttime lab classes. Before I say anything else, I need to tell you: I'm single - I can't tell you how to handle the family issues - there are great non-trad people on SDN who can. I'm also an odd premed because I just turned 44 this fall and I'll start first year med school in August. I consider my poor adopted German Shepherd (pic at left) to be an abused child, because she's had to get used to spending 14 hours a day in the backyard for the last 2 years, and it's broken my heart.
But, I can tell you this - you can become a physician if you want to, but you're going to have to make huge sacrifices, including family. I did my core prerequisites in 16 months -all in community college at night. I'm a CPA and kept my professional job the whole time. I often got home at 10:00 at night from lab classes, dead on my feet. For two semesters, I had Orgo I & II that met Friday night and Saturday afternoon - so I was in class six days a week. I know a little about family problems, because I look after my elderly mother since my dad died two years ago (she lives in a senior apartment near me).
Getting pre-reqs done in 16 months while working was the most challenging, exciting time of my life. But, to be honest, it was very very painful. You need to go into medicine because you can no longer imagine doing anything else with your life - because that is the kind of determination it takes to get through the premed process as a working adult. I just don't think you can afford to take on 2 more years of living expenses before you ever get to med school. You will be drowning in debt.
But, if you can accept the hardships, welcome aboard with the rest of us crazy older premeds! And don't be embarrassed talking about money in the non-trad forum. None of us is doing this to get rich - but we are not kids and we have to be able to have realistic discussions like this one, since we have adult responsibilities. Making student loan payments out of social security checks would just be very un-cool. Good luck to you!!
you know, the organic one's a tough one. luckily, i had all my chemistry from undergrad the first time (chem minor), so it wasn't an issue. i did note that my postbacc school didn't offer any chem classes at night, which is very disappointing. i'd be curious to know what other people did about that one, too.
hmm, you're right that the family issues might make the night class thing impossible. as a lawyer, i know this is probably an impossibility, but is there any way you can get a job where you work less? unfortunately, that would probably involve a pay cut. i don't know -- maybe law2doc could help us out.
my situation's easier because i don't have kids, and i only borrowed about $50k for law school and all staffords. even my subsidized to unsubsidized ratio is favorable. also, i don't practice, which gives me the luxury of only working 40 hours a week.
maybe you could spend the next few years spending time with your child, paying down the law school loans and building up your savings. then, do a straight postbacc year. however, the real downside of the straight postbacc year is that you'd have to quit your job, and then find something to do in the year when you're applying following the postbacc year. that's not so easy with professional jobs.
i don't know. i'm sure there's a way, but there's not an easy one.
I think one thing that tends to be forgotten in the whole salary discussion is how costly malpractice insurance can be for a given specialty. Premiums do vary widely depending on specialty, years of practice, and particular region. Stories of OB/GYN's and trauma surgeons having to self-insure themselves because the malpractice premiums nearly equal the insurance coverage are true and quite sobering when you consider that the average award amount for a malpractice suit is $1 million and that roughly 40% of those physicians who are sued for malpractice will lose. You mentioned family practice, which I believe, the average malpractice insurance premium is $12,300 per year for very basic coverage (no L&D and the minimum liability amounts required by state law) for an experienced--meaning several years post-residency--FP physician.
Oh, and with organic chemistry, there are several schools that offer it in distance education format (online, videotape, etc.). The content of these distance-learning organic chemistry courses do meet medical school requirements, but you would still need to find a school to take the laboratory portion of organic chemistry. The University of Utah offers a distance education organic chemistry course.
hey, if you go to ou and homeschool, you can spend lots of time with your baby! of course, you'll be studying, but i bet she'll still like having you around.
That's true - but the $120-$130K that exlawgrrl quoted for FP is take-home. Most physicians are salaried employees these days, and office overhead plus malpractice are expenses paid by the employer. At least, that's true for all of the salaried physicians that I know in my own health system. Solo practices and small group practices are going the way of independent drug stores. You can make a little more money if you go solo, but the headaches of office management - and getting into all the managed-care contracts you need - are a formidable obstacle.
The dog's coming with me, Exlawgrrl... fortunately, modest houses with fenced yards are dirt cheap in OKC - it's going to be awful funding two households for two years, but I'm already talking to my sister about living in my Tulsa house for two years. The homeschool thing is so attractive, but it still sounds almost too good to be true!
According to Damages, by Barry Werth, 90% of malpractice claims are settled, but of the remaining 10% that go to trial, physicians win 90% of the time. Of course, another big difference between having insurance and self coverage is that the insurance company will hire lawyers to defend suits against you (although their interest will be more to protect the company).
That sounds much closer to what I've always heard/read. The average award can't be anywhere near $1MM, because a whole lot of claims I'm aware of are nuisance claims with no merit that sometimes get paid off for $5K or so just to make the plaintiff patient go away. Malpractice is a problem in certain specialties - I would think twice about going into OB/Gyn for just that reason - but it's not "destroying" healthcare. The last figures I saw said that malpractice awards are less than 3% of healthcare spending. Primary care docs with good rapport with their patients rarely get sued.
I can't offer any advice than what others have already said except to say if it's what you want, there's always a way to make it happen. Best of luck to you and keep us posted on your progress!
I got my information from the following:
"By 2000, the median jury award had risen to $1 million, with the median pretrial settlement award at $500,000. In 2000, defendant doctors prevailed in 60 percent of all the cases that went to a jury.3 "
The point being that the malpractice issue should be one of many factors considered when deciding to become a physician. Again from the same article: "According to one study of about 150 doctors who were sued for malpractice, 95 percent reported significant physical or emotional symptoms during the litigation process, 42 percent stopped seeing certain kinds of patients and 28 percent stopped doing certain kinds of procedures.5 "
I'm in a similar position - 27 year old attorney and have very similar feelings toward the law. And I have a even larger chunk of law school loans (130K) from my very expensive private law school. I have been struggling to come up with a plan that will allow me to go to med school and not be insanely in debt when I graduate. I suppose I'm lucky in that I don't have a family to provide for and I work for a big firm, but I am still very confused as to whether or not med school is feasible. I'm most interested in the post-bacc programs with the linkage programs - but all of the med schools that are linked seem crazy expensive. Are the famous post bacc programs like Bryn Mawr and Columbia worth it? The other problem is that I don't live in an area where there are state schools. I guess I'm wondering if reputation is as big of a deal for med school as it was for law school? Most importanly can I survive residency with a gazillion dollars of debt? Should I move to a state with state schools??? I'm looking to start the pre-med coursework June of 2007 and save up enough money to fund the pre-med pre-reqs. Ideally of course, I'd like to finish those as soon as possible (hence the appeal of the formal post bacc programs). I'm just at the beginning of trying to understand the process of starting over and any and all advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!!
Im in a similar situation as all of you folks. I am 26 single, and close to graduating law school. I have been taking all of my prereqs at a community college.
I have close to 130K of debt (mix of federal an private loans). My parents are generous enough to allow me to live with them while I finish up my prereqs. Also keep in mind that there is no limit to how many private loans you can take out, YES that sounds painful but hey how bad do you want this?
Also keep in mind the military as a possible route, its an option I am considering.
So why is everyone leaving law? Im just curious
Solution = PA.
Two years. Good money. Limited malpractice concerns.
No one lives forever...not even lawyers!
Sure, all doctors will be sued at one point in their career. They will have malpractice insurance paid for by their employer, and in almost all cases it will be sufficient. Not sure how that should be a factor in considering the profession given that the average take homes listed are salaries (and the insurance doesn't come out of that).
What should perhaps be considered is that the salaries listed above are average salaries. Meaning that some people earn less than that. And not always by choice. (Having worked on a number of medicical practice bankruptcies, I assure you some folks still manage to struggle). While the pre-allo board is naively happy to talk about medicine having "guaranteed" six digit salaries and everyone optimisitic about earning the top of every specialty salary range they hear about, folks on the nontrad board are hopefully more realistic.
Depending on the OPs current salary, it is often a safe assumption that a practicing lawyer will be taking a pay cut to go into medicine, and that the salary he/she brings in upon completing residency will be less than that salary the same person would have obtained had they remained in law for those seven plus years. It's an even significantly bigger cut once you figure in the additional debt, and a loss of any savings over those ten years. Thus it's something you have to do because it is really what you want to do and would add significantly to your happiness, as it probably won't add to your wealth.
My only suggestion to the OP would be to consider tightening your belt and working for a few more years to pay down some of that law school debt, if that's an option.
Are any of the JD to MD folks in this thread malpractice lawyers?
Physician salaries are not keeping up with inflation:
Future of medicine will likely be mid-levels providing most, if not all, primary care and MDs/DOs providing specialty care. It's already happening. Most medical school students who will inevitably be saddled with $200K debt apply to medical school thinking that they'll be primary care docs. By third year, they all want to specialize because they realize the blood, sweat, and tears is not worth $120K/year.
Interesting links -- note the 10% of physicians in the survey not breaking 100k in the last table of the first link as evidence that no (6 digit) salary is ever "guaranteed".
As for your question about malpractice attorneys, I think it's not that likely you would be looked upon favorably by adcoms trying to transition from being a malpractice plaintiff's attorney, so that would be a significant hurdle to overcome in admissions. You'd have to really show that you are not getting the MD to better sue doctors. Thus I seriously doubt you'll come across many with this background in med school. Probably people who do malpractice defense or health law can more easilly make the transition.
Most docs who will interview you are academic MDs/DOs or PhDs. Under the academic umbrella, malpractice is not much of an issue. Salary is another story...
If you think it isn't an issue, you are simply wrong. Most interviewers are clinicians. While most of these doctors work in academic settings, they are still subject to lawsuit, and will still be annoyed by malpractice attorneys. When one files a suit, even at a teaching hospital affiliated with an academic institution, you still name the physicians involved. They may not pay their own insurance, but they still get sued. And those that have retired to pure academia will have had a career full of brushes with lawyers. I stand by my prior statement.
Little off topic but I'd be fascinated to hear the input that you "law types" have to offer on this thread. Towards the bottom of the second page a few quasi legal questions are raised.
Yup. Even if they haven't been named in a suit to that point, they are always worried about it happening. More & more physicians are practicing like they are scared to be sued and do what they do to cover their butts. Its very threatening to them.
I am a lurker most of the time but had to reply being a JD who once seriously considered med. school ( and sometimes still does).
1) To the original poster: a) I would seriously wait several months/years b/f I made a career change- having a baby is the most profound change that could happen in your life. It will change you emotionally, financially etc. and you will have second thoughts about the priorities in your life. b) sometimes it is the job but not the profession that stinks. Making money and enjoying your career are not mutually exclusive especially in the law. Making a move to a different firm or even career w/o totally changing you degree can make an incredible difference.
All I am saying is that it is a drastic move for someone who has been through one professional school, profeesional sucessful& essentially the breadwinner, married and w/ a family. If I were single (or even w/o children) and in an absolutely horrible job it would be a different situation.
2) I disagree that being a med. mal. atty would have a negative impact. I think that if you can think on your feet- & I hope you can as a litigator and provide a great explanation in your essay and interview, that some medical schools would be absolutely fascinated. By the way, you would be absolutely crazy to be a sucessful med. mal. atty and go to med. school to improve your credentials b/c you would be so rich as a malpractice atty., med school would not matter. I know a few MD/JDs and all of them went to med. school first!
3) Although every med mal. case starts w/ a med mal atty., I think much of the blame can also be placed on insurance companies. I am not a med mal. atty but have done insurance defense work and insurance cos. and defense firms certainly drive up the costs of litigation by billing the bejeezers out of the case (like drs. used to do). May cases would settle for much lower amounts if insurence companies were not "trying to prove a point" by taking cases to trial and defense firms were not anxious to make more $$$ through more work on a case. The med mal. system would then work more like mediation- more cases would probably settle for less money........
Not sure I agree with all of this. I've heard from admissions types who have indicated that adcoms are wary of med mal types. It's less about thinking on your feet and more about being regarded as being from the enemy camp.
As for being crazy to get an MD to do medmal, it certainly enhances your chances at larger law firms to have other health degrees. So while sure, it may not be helpful for existing medmal lawyers already doing well, it would certainly be helpful for folks in smaller firms looking to move up the food chain, or those in other litigation areas who want to change to a health oriented field like medmal. But I do agree, 99.99% of medmal lawyers do not have an MD, so it certainly isn't a prereq. But I can see how, for some, it might be helpful to jumpstart a career in that direction.
wow, i don't know if i respect or pity someone who's willing to go through four years of medical school following three years of law school to enhance their resume for medical malpractice work. that's a lot of work for something that might make you more hireable yet not that much of a better attorney (not four years worth of hard work in medical school worth anyway). there just have to be easier ways to get there.
plus, is med mal that hard to get into? hell, if you've got the science classes for premed, just do ip work. anyway, just rambling about the fact that i seriously question someone's sanity if they'd go to medical school soley for the purpose of boosting their legal career. from my past experience, i only recommend going to a professional school if you expect to join that profession. sort of duh, but something i missed when i started law school.
I personally wouldn't do it (law to med school to law), but there are people who have. Probably folks who are in medical school and get burnt out, lose interest, or have family obligations that require quicker infusions of income than a long residency would permit. Not a smart career move given the 4 year loss of income, but might put one at a better spot in law after the ordeal. And as to your question as to whether medmal is tough to get into, to do well in any area of practice, including medmal, it never hurts to have an edge.
Is it hard to get into med mal- not at all. Is it hard to make money at it- yes! Not only do you have to understand the nature & extent of the medical error- you ahve to be able to express it in very simple terms to a jury and find a medical expert who will back you up. It is not as easy as non-lawyers think. In addition, I sometimes think that doctors make alot more money off med. mal practice cases than lawyers do. I know in the area where I practice, doctors get $2500-$5000 per written report and another $5K for a deposition. If they actually testify (approx. 2 to 3 hours) the $10 to $25+. Cha-ching! Almost better than surgery.......
There are certainly physicians who are effectively professional witnesses, devoting the majority of their time toward litigation testimony and reports and a small minority actually practicing medicine. But the plaintiff experts quickly tend to lose credibility if they are seen by judges in large numbers of cases espousing the same position or viewpoint. Smart medmal lawyers thus try not to overuse the same experts, using a rotating crops type methodology. Thus the frequency at which physician professional expert witnesses are able to keep their plate full of this kind of work isn't really that consistent. (so not better than surgery in that respect). Depends a lot on geographic location and the type of claim they are purporting to be expert on though. Also evidence considered by judges to be of most probative value tends to be the testimony of a physician who actually was involved in patient treatment, who didn't just learn about the case for litigation reasons. Thus a patient's other or subsequent physicians generally get called as witnesses, rather than a paid for professional expert, if possible.