The authors reflect on the article in this issue entitled “Borrow or Serve? An Economic Analysis of Options for Financing a Medical School Education” by Marcu and colleagues, which makes a compelling case that a medical school education is a good investment, no matter what financing option students use, from federal service programs to federal loans. The lead author of this Commentary shares lessons learned from his own medical school education, which was funded by an Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship, and from his current position interacting with medical students across the United States.
Regardless of the financing path they choose, all students should understand basic financial concepts and the details of the various pathways that are available to pay for their medical school education, as well as how each could potentially impact their own future and that of their families. One underappreciated aspect of financing a medical school education is that federal repayment scenarios can link loan payments to income, rather than debt levels, which means that all physicians are able to afford their loan payments no matter what specialty they practice, what they are paid, or where they live.
Medical education, while expensive, remains the good investment. An MD degree can lead to a lifetime of personal fulfillment and societal contributions. Everyone, with rare exceptions, accepted to a U.S. medical school will be able to finance their medical education via a path that aligns with their personal values and priorities.