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WRITTEN BY NANCY HUMPHREY
PHOTOGRAPHY BY WILL CROCKER / THE IMAGE BANK

   
 

Medical students should be able to choose their life's work based on what they wish to accomplish, not their level of debt.

But reality is that a medical student who graduated in 2004 from any of the nation's 125 accredited medical schools is leaving with an average of $115,218 of debt. For those finishing at private schools the figure is $133,357. The cost to attend Vanderbilt University School of Medicine for four years is more than $200,000 - an amount that includes tuition, fees, books, room and board, transportation and personal expenses. Eighty-nine percent of Vanderbilt students graduating in 2005 left with debt averaging $118,715, a figure $15,000 less than the private school average.

During residency, he or she will make about $40,000 a year, and will train at least three years. Depending on additional fellowships, training often lasts five to 10 years after graduation from medical school.

"My dad is a physician, and it's just different today," says Elizabeth Harper, a neurology resident at VUMC. "So much of our income is going to be sucked right back up by the infrastructure (debt payments). It's very difficult to get ahead during the first decade of practice. If you're not married and don't have a second income, it can take as long as 10 to 20 years to be free and clear." continued..

   
 
 
   
 
 
 
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