According to the American Medical Association, medical program graduates end up in about $200,000 in debt, which can take at least 13 years to pay off completely. However, the debt payment time and its burden vary across all medical specialties because of salary discrepancies.
Fortunately, multiple governmental and private programs are available to provide debt relief to physicians. For example, President Biden has recently announced the student loan relief program for doctors in need (based on annual earnings). Moreover, doctors with AMA membership can also access up to $200,000 as one of the AMA benefits to pay off medical school debts.
Which Medical Specialties Are More Burdened with Student Debt?
Based on the Medscape Wealth and Debt Report of 2022, students who pursue the following professions end up with greater debt:
|Medical Specialty||% of Students Currently Paying Medical School Student Loans|
|Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation||31%|
Which Medical Specialties Are Least Burdened by Medical School Debt?
According to a Medscape report, doctors and physicians belonging to these fields have almost or completely paid off their medical school debt. Therefore, they are least hampered by this financial responsibility.
|Medical Specialty||% of Students Currently Paying Medical School Student Loan Debt|
|Public Health & Preventive Medicine||11%|
|Diabetes & Endocrinology||15%|
Why Some Medical Specialties Are More Debt Burdened?
More and more students are gravitating towards professions that promise a high wage following the onset of their careers. These include physicians in the sectors of physical medicine and rehabilitation, emergency medicine, pediatrics, neurology, family medicine, and critical care.
Doctors in these fields fall under the age bracket of 55 years old. As these individuals have recently graduated (in contrast to physicians over 55), they rack up greater debt in student loans and, therefore, take more time to pay it off.
Another reason young doctors are paying off more loan bills is the decline in scholarship programs and funding. When scholarships cannot cover most medical school costs, students must take out loans to complete their studies.
How to Become Debt-Free After Medical School?
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, most doctors fell behind on their debt payments or experienced financial losses. Considering this, it is better to have a safety net of insurance programs to help you settle your medical school debt, especially if you face disability issues and have no means to resume your earnings.
As an AMA member, you can avail multiple benefits in the form of discounts, resources, and opportunities. In addition, you can take AMA disability insurance, which will give you almost $200,000 to clear your debt in the unfortunate case you experience disability. However, you cannot access this benefit after passing the age of 46.
That said, there are other insurance companies that offer students the opportunity to increase their coverage with a Student Loan Repayment rider. The rider facility ensures that your insurance company will pay off the medical school loan debt, no matter what age you encounter disability.
As a healthcare provider, one of your primary concerns will be clearing your student debts. However, you can ease this worry by signing up for an insurance policy that offers coverage for paying off student loan debts on your behalf. You can also take a proactive approach and register for a disability insurance place to certify debt clearance in the unfortunate case of a disability.
Naomi Olson [Website • Twitter • Headshot]
I am a CFP® (Certified Financial Planner).
I have a severe phobia of bridges and dirty balance sheets.
Hobbies: blogging, meditation, and loving Bull Market (my dog).