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Thoughts on scholarship from hometown - with strings...

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Random Anesthesiologist

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My SO and I want to return to the area I grew up in after residency. My family lives there and we really like the area for raising kids and just living our lives.

I found out yesterday that my hometown's (pop. ~5k) hospital board will approve a scholarship to pay for 4 years of tuition (possibly living expenses?) if I agree to return to my hometown and practice for the 4 years they cover. I start med school this fall at a state school.

There are pluses and minuses to this:

Plus: we want to return to the area, my hometown has a low cost of living, good schools, good healthcare. Family members are medical professionals in the town.

Minus: Small community hospital with opportunities mostly for: ER, FP, Gen Surg, General IM, Psych. Specialists come from a larger city nearby and do one day/week clinic/surgeries. Specialists could base themselves out of this town and travel to adjacent town hospitals, but wouldn't be exclusive to the town.

If I took the scholarship and decided not to stay in my hometown, it would turn into a loan with interest, comparable to federal loan interest.

I think my main concern is not knowing what I want to specialize in out of med school. I'm concerned I may limit myself to something I may not enjoy, but on the other hand, I would be debt-free if I took them up all they way.

What are some other SDNers thoughts on this, strictly related to this situation? There are no outside sources to consider. My SO is 100% behind my decision and we have no kids. Thanks for your feedback!
 

Sol Rosenberg

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Sounds like there is no real downside for taking it. You are not very specific about the "default" terms ("...comparable to federal loan interest.") If the only penalty for "default" is that the grant becomes a private loan with terms equal to those of a Stafford loan, it sounds like you have nothing to lose.
 

Random Anesthesiologist

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Sounds like there is no real downside for taking it. You are not very specific about the "default" terms ("...comparable to federal loan interest.") If the only penalty for "default" is that the grant becomes a private loan with terms equal to those of a Stafford loan, it sounds like you have nothing to lose.

Thanks for the response, Sol. I'm going to call the hospital board chairman tomorrow and get more specific info. The info I have is from a doc who was previously offered the scholarship but didn't need it because of having personal funds.

I just wondered what more objective thoughts were on it, so I really appreciate your input. I'll post more info when I get it this week :oops:.
 

Phoenix.

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Sol mirrored my thoughts exactly. Definitely check out the difference. If you just end up with a Stafford-like loan, it sounds like there's a lot of upside (if you decide to move home), versus not much downside (right back where you started) if you decide to specialize in something that isn't conducive to moving back home.
 

DoctorPardi

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I know in some cases you can get loan reimbursement after graduation also. In Alabama I believe there is a program you can sign up for where you agree to do a certain number of years of work in a rural area and they will pay your loan for you. The smaller the population of the city the fewer years required.

You may want to look into things like that as well.
 

Twitch

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One thing to consider is your current cost of education. How much is it costing you to currently goto school. If you're going to school at a low cost public school or a high $$$ may make a difference as well.

For instance here in TX our school expenses are ~ $10-12k/yr. There are other schools where it is much higher. Since it'll take you 4 years to pay them back, having a scholarship for $250k vs $50k (not counting living exp) may matter.

Another thing to consider, if you want to return to your hometown - would you be happy working in a large city even as a specialist. The 5 you listed below is somewhat comprehensive. If you wanted to further specialize after the 4 years you give back to the community, you could certainly get a fellowship either through the gen surg route or IM which open up a lot of fellowship doors.

Get the board to throw in living expenses and take the offer.
 

Random Anesthesiologist

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Thanks for the response, twitch and Dr. P.

My COA is about $47k for M1 and will be a little more for the rest, so realistically I could have about 200k in debt when I graduate.

After talking with the hospital board president, he told me the hospital has been burned 3 times with offering the scholarship only to have the students not return. One even has not paid them back. He did say they would be willing to offer it again, but would be more receptive to an agreement on loan repayment in the event I come back and practice, rather than fronting the money.

He told me to write a proposal and then I will be invited to speak in front of the scholarship committee to express my request.

So, pretty much, either I'll be offered a scholarship or loan repayment. Either one is fine, but I kind of like the loan repayment because it doesn't obligate me to go into a particular specialty - it will just be available in the event I do return.

Once the committee and I can agree on one or the other, then we'll talk amounts and terms. I'm definitely going to be pushing for tuition + living expenses, mostly because the state I live in has several other loan repayment programs that at least pay off tuition. If my hometown is really serious about recruiting me, then we'll see if they can do better ;).

Anyway, it looks promising, and a sort of win-win for both parties if I do indeed return (which is about a 75% possibility if I had to guess today).

And, I encourage others from smaller towns to check with their hospitals or local practice groups about similar scholarships/loan repayment programs! You never know unless you ask, and a good deal can be waiting around the corner. Especially if it's something you want to do anyway.

Thanks all for the good responses and I'll keep the thread updated on the evolution of this "deal" so others can see how it works!

P.S. I should add that of the primary care physicians in my hometown, 2 are in their 60s, 1 in 50s, 2 in their 40s, and one just retired. The general surgeon is in his early-mid 60's and the ER docs are in their 40's-60's. Specialists that visit are in their 50s-60s.

So basically, they are really looking for young docs to come back - something I can use to my advantage I think.
 
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