Tuesday, June 1, 2010

"When We're Rich"

is my new go-to phrase these days. Although I know better than most that doctors are not all rich, I know that one day we will be comfortable. All that I really want is for us to not have to think twice when it comes to repairing our only car so that it doesn't break down on us mid-transit or cause us bodily injury because we are worried that we can't spare enough money to have it fixed. I just want piece of mind that if I fall and break my leg, we are going to have enough money to have the proper medical care to fix it.

Have I mentioned that Hubs' medical school does NOT offer health insurance?
Does that seem odd to anyone else?
So, I am going to have to drop everything I have here in SC and move to WV in the hopes of finding a good enough job to cover living expenses and health insurance even though we will only be there three years, so even if I found a great job with benefits, they may not even look at me because I can't commit more than three years?!

Does this sound like the lavish wife-of-a-doctor lifestyle you were expecting?

Back on topic.

It is a common misconception that doctors are millionaires. Sure, some are, but most are very much NOT.

Most student doctors do not graduate from four years of medical school debt-free (laughable).
Yup, you have to pay to learn how to save lives.
And we are talking a good fraction of a million dollars in payment to learn how to save lives.
This = debt on top of any other undergraduate expenses that may have accrued in order to get into medical school.
You know, like four years of every science class that you could imagine that has a required lab with $400 lab fees and $700 book fees; like one Kaplan course at $1000 a pop to help you study for the MCAT, which costs a pretty penny to take (each time, because it should be taken more than once).
Then there are the fees to apply to all of the medical schools.
And finally the deposit once you've been accepted.

Do you see the number rising?
Me too.

I have tallied that Hubs and I will be roughly $260,000 and some change in debt by the time he walks across that stage as Dr. Hubs.

But he will be able to pay it off within his first year out of school working, right?

No. He won't. Because he will be pulling 80 hour weeks, during which time he will be missing holidays, maybe even the births of his children, etc., for a mere $45,000 a year. And this will go on anywhere from three to eight years. (Hubs' program will take an additional six after medical school.)

I guess that the whole debt thing is really a nice way of weeding out the ones who are only in it for a little cash from those committed few. You know, those crazy people willing to go as far into the red as need be will surely the best doctor make.

Finding it really pathetic what our lifesavers doctors have to go through to save lives, I mean, to pay outrageous malpractice insurance so that they can then attempt to save lives?
Remind me again how much a celebrity makes per movie, or a professional athlete per game.
And they aren't saving lives one foul ball at a time are they?
And I bet they didn't have to pay any amount of money to pretend to makeout with a complete stranger fellow actor so that millions of people can watch them on the big screen.
Oh, that's right. We pay them LOADS to do all of those things.
My bad.

I guess that where this innocent phrase has led me is here:

To all of those people who wink, pop the thumbs up or attempt to high-five me for marrying a soon-to-be-doctor because they think that I pictured a future of bedazzlement with Hubs proffering up diamonds at every birthday, anniversary or the third Monday of every month because he's a millionaire and he can, you know nothing of the sacrifice it takes to get past four years of $250,000 classes and six years of living frugally and paying off that bill.

I thought that maybe no one outside of the medical school world would understand this precarious position of doctorhood until I had lunch with my mentor a few months back. The first word he uttered as I described the situation of medical school was "poverty."

"Excuse me," I said, as I nearly choked on my tomato-basil noodles.

"They expect both of you to live in poverty so that he can go to school and learn how to save peoples' lives," he said.

Poverty. I never thought about it that way. Sure, I say that we're poor more times a day than I'd care to count, but poverty? That's something entirely different.

"What about you?" he asked.

Yeah, what about me, I thought. Its all up to me, this whole staying out of poverty thing.

"Well, that's why I am here with you now. I have to get the best job that I can, because we only want to take out enough loans to pay for school. We are trying to come up with living expenses on our own."

"But, that's insane. You're both so young. How do they expect you to do that?"

[I'm still not entirely sure who he meant by "they," but I'm pretty sure that he was speaking of our beloved government.]

"You know what I think," he asked. "I think that medical school should be free. Why do the people who want to save lives have to live in poverty while incurring hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt to learn how to save human life?"

[And this is when I thought that was probably the best idea I'd ever heard a democrat propose. (And I am a-political for the record.) I agreed with him. I may have even drank a sip of my water to that, believing that he was on to something. It seemed like the fairest thing out there. I was all about some equal rights for student doctors in the moment, but probably only because I think that Hubs is the nicest, most selfless person on the planet and of all the doctor-wannabes, surely he should be granted the fine gift of free medical school.

But the more I thought about it, the more I understood why so many people fall victim to these progressive theories. Free medical school sounds a lot like Health Care Reform, which isn't a solution at all. In fact, the same spiraling-into-failure cycle would be true of both theories. If medical school were indeed free, then every cash-loving son-of-a-gun out there would be signed up tomorrow, not because they had a passion for helping people, but because they wanted to get.rich.quick and everyone knows that doctors are millionaires, right?

The truth is that the quality of doctors and healthcare would quickly diminish and eventually disappear (remember what I said earlier about all of that debt weeding out the good from the bad?), because there would be no competition and doctors would be just as broke as well, medical students. Sigh.]

I guess all that I am trying to say here is that I picture a future where Hubs and I don't have to check our bank account a million times a day to make sure we have enough liquid funds to cover our student loans, utility bills and rent. I don't want to have to worry about spending too much money on groceries. And damn it, I want some extra cash to give to those people who have NO way of making ends meet.

I'm just saying that yeah, its pretty cool being married to a man who will one day be called Doctor, but I'm not in this for the cash, so don't pat me on the back because you think I married a soon-to-be-millionaire and deserve a "congratulations."


  1. Ohhhhh I couldn't have said it better myself lady!
    I get tired of people saying that I am with S because I want to marry a doctor. Really? Because the lifestyle is so glamorous? That he is a slave to the hospital for the first how many years barely making time for me (or perhaps our family we have started)... and the idea that they are rich? Right!
    S is very very lucky that his parents were able to put him through school so the debt will not be the same... but that doesn't mean he is going to be rich right when he gets out of school.

    Ugh. I am definitely not high-fiving you because I totally know how you feel about this ENTIRE subject!

  2. The more and more blogs I read the more and more I realize that a doctor's wife life isn't all the movies and TV cracks it up to be. But it makes sense. All of my friends who are currently in med school or are applying to, seem to be living a pretty crazy lifestyle in order to make ends meet. And it really doesn't seem like there's an end in sight! But alas, hopefully someday you guys will have it better, and you can worry a little less about the simple things in life :)

  3. I feel ya, sister. Love this post. So many truths. I married my Dr. H halfway through undergrad, so I get REALLY annoyed when people give me 'the look' or make some comment about being married to a doctor. ;-)

  4. hahahah! yes!

    also, may i just add my own little annoyance? I'm graduating from law school and i STILL get this wink thing. It's like, 1) clearly i'm capable of not just relying on his pay check (and that's even pretending that there is this mythical/magical check on its way) 2) shouldn't he get a wink? he married a soon to be lawyer! and 3) because we're BOTH graduating with debt the red numbers are just downright inconceivable. like, those numbers aren't real to me.

    i'm SOOOO there with you!

  5. It is a pretty ridiculous system, but as you said, at least there IS a light at the end of the tunnel. And if this is really what he wants to do, it'll be worth it to get there. :-)