www.advanceweb.com | 2018 | FOCUS ON EDUCATION 11 FOCUS ON EDUCATION  |  MEDICAL SCHOOL OTHER COSTS However, the costs don’t end there if you want to be a doctor. After you complete medical school, you’ll still need to undergo three to seven years of residency training. While this training doesn’t entail any annual tuition fees, it does require a number of different tests. A single one of these tests can cost more than $2,000, and you’ll also need to pay for prep courses and materials. However, it’s important to point out that doctors-in-training are also paid a substantial salary. You’re finally done with your residency, and you’ve obtained your medical license. How deep in debt are you? First, you’ll want to factor in the costs of your undergradu- ate degree. If you’re lucky, you’ll have spent around $20,000 per year as an undergraduate. However, many high-caliber private schools with undergraduate medical programs can cost more than $30,000 per year in tuition. Therefore, it’s likely that you accumulated between $80,000 and $120,000 in tuition fees as an undergraduate. Most students aren’t lucky enough to have their room and board paid for by scholar- ships or other benefactors, and the average yearly cost of necessities for students is around $10,000 to $12,000. That’s without weekend kegs and nightly pizza deliveries included. This annual cost means that it’s likely that you’ll have accrued at least another $80,000 to $96,000 in debt for living expenses once you’re done with medical school. With all of these factors considered, it’s time to determine your total likely debt at the end of your residency, assuming that you haven’t received any scholarships or other help. When all is said and done, an average medical license costs between $289,000 and $458,000 from start to finish. THE COST TO SET UP YOUR PRACTICE In many cases, the costs accrued by a medi- cal professional don’t end at schooling. If you want to start your own medical practice, for instance, you’ll need to take out a business loan. If you want to start a private family medi- cal practice, your average costs will be between $70,000 and $100,000. However, it’s often possible to save on costs if you’re savvy with your purchases. For instance, if you spend less money on office furniture, you’ll be able to allocate those resources to cover costs of items with almost immediate returns, such as vaccines and other products you’ll use with patients. While it is the dream of many doctors to get out from under the thumb of hospital administrators or other medical bureaucrats, you should defi- nitely consider the cost to take out a business loan when starting your own practice before you make this decision. WHICH PROFESSIONS MAKE THE MOST FINANCIAL SENSE? In one way, the medical professions haven’t changed in the United States because doctors still make more than most other people. Many aspiring undergraduates set their sights on a medical career for precisely this reason, and they offset their growing mountain of debt with the knowledge that, if they only try hard enough, they’ll be rewarded handsomely in the end. However, not all doctors make the same amount of money. The more lucrative medical professions, such as cardiac surgery, also cost more to enter. For instance, cardiac surgeons end up having to endure 11 years of education to enter their line of work while most other doctors only need to go through seven years of medical school and residency. You’ll make more money as a cardiac surgeon, but you’ll also accrue at least three extra years for living expenses before you become a board-certified physician. If you want to make as much money as pos- sible and slough off your debt burden sooner, it still makes more sense to opt for specialized medical fields. Even if you scrimp and save as much as possible throughout your entire time as an undergrad, medical school attendee, and resident physician, you’ll still accrue at least $150,000 in debt. For comparison, the average general practitioner makes around $175,000 per year. If you use 10 percent of your annual salary as a GP to make loan payments, it will take almost nine years to pay off your loans entirely. However, the average cardiac surgeon makes around $350,000 per year. Since it costs more to become a cardiac surgeon, let’s assume that your debt burden is $250,000 as you enter your first year of practice. If you use 10 percent of your salary to pay off your debt every year, you’ll be debt-free in just over seven years. While these hypothetical situations might sound reasonable, it’s important to remem- ber that they don’t adequately represent the situation of the average doctor. Some doctors end up being more than $500,000 in debt, and after all that schooling, they might only be able to achieve a position that is far below their education level due to economic conditions. In some ideal situations, new doctors can get rid of their debt burden in less than five years, but