Category: Veterinary

By Emily Millet

The Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) is an examination that one must take in order to gain entrance into medical school or health professions school such as veterinary* or podiatric school. The American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) is the governing body responsible for creating the MCAT exam as well as official content review for the examination.

The MCAT covers material from the prerequisite courses taken as an undergraduate student. The exam requires the use of both critical thinking skills and knowledge gained from these prerequisites. The suggested structure of study will be listed below, but can also be found in the MCAT Essentials for Testing Year 2018, a guidebook published by the AAMC.

*As a quick side note, some veterinary schools will accept either the MCAT or the GRE, and some only accept the GRE. See links at the end of the article for more detail.

When do I take the MCAT?

Most students who are planning on matriculating into medical school directly after college (“traditional” students) will take the exam during the summer of their junior year. If a student does not want to begin medical school immediately following college (“gap year” or “non-traditional” students), it is important to wait until the applicant is ready to apply because MCAT results can expire at some schools. Some schools will accept scores as old as 4 years, but the majority of schools will only accept an MCAT score within the last 3 years.

How many times can I take it?

Once is best. This test is quite expensive ($345) and is an emotionally taxing event to prepare for. It is best if you prepare right the first time, do your absolute best, and apply with your strongest application. There is a lifetime limit of 7 attempts for the MCAT. You are permitted to take the test 3 times in a calendar year and 4 times in a 2 consecutive year period.

How do I know what my goal score should be?

The new MCAT is scored from a low of 472 to a high of 528. Each of the four sections is scored from a low score of 118 to a perfect score of 132. By consulting the Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR) publication ($28), one can also find the information for minimum and average MCAT scores for each school.


  • Courses recommended for MCAT preparation:
  • Introductory Biology (2 semesters, 3 quarters)
  • General/Inorganic Chemistry (2 semesters, 3 quarters)
  • Organic Chemistry (2 semesters, 3 quarters)
  • General Physics (Algebra or Calculus based) (2 semesters, 3 quarters)
  • Biochemistry (1 semester or equivalent)
  • Introductory Psychology (1 semester or equivalent)
  • Introductory Sociology (1 semester or equivalent)

Other courses that are often considered helpful by other SDN members (in order of helpfulness):

  • Research Intensive Courses (e.g. journal club courses that require the student to critically evaluate, interpret, and convey dense scientific information in a simplified manner)
  • Advanced courses in neuroscience, cellular biology, microbiology, or physiology.
  • Genetics
  • Cell Biology
  • Physiology

Subjects tested on the MCAT (in order that they appear on the exam):

  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems (C/P- 59 questions | 95 minutes)
    • This section covers chemistry and physics in relation to biological systems. In this section, you will see questions that apply chemical and physical concepts to biological systems. For example, instead of a water pipe when referring to a question about pressure, the question will relate the concept to a vessel or a vein that is carrying blood in the human body.
  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems (B/B- 59 questions | 95 minutes)
    • This section covers biology and biochemistry. This section heavily focuses on amino acids. (It is highly recommend that you memorize these and know them well!) This section pulls concepts from other sections as well into a fully-integrated section that tests your knowledge of biology, biochemistry, basic physiology, cellular mechanisms, and genetics.
  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS- 53 questions | 90 minutes)
    • CARS is a section that focuses on your ability to quickly read, analyze, and interpret a large amount of information and then answer questions regarding the information presented. CARS is an important aspect of the MCAT because it lets the admissions committee know that you can think critically and pick out important information from a large amount of information (similar to knowing pertinent details during a history and physical exam).
  • Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior (P/S- 59 questions | 95 minutes)
    • The newest addition to the MCAT exam tests students over the “behavioral” sciences such as psychology, sociology, and other developmental courses. This section focuses on how the various psychological and sociological theories impact an individual and their development as a human being.

Study Resources

The MCAT is notorious for causing anxiety among premedical students and even those who are planning a career in medicine prior to college. This 6 hour and 15 minute, 230 question exam is one of many hurdles that stands between the transition from a premedical student into a medical student. Thankfully, there are resources for nearly everyone and every situation. Whether you are a freshman premedical student, a senior in college who has recently discovered medicine, or a career-changer, there are plenty of resources available to ensure that you can perform your best.

Student Doctor Network (SDN) has a wealth of resources to assist with preparation for this exam. One resource that I highly recommend if you are not sure where to start is the StudySchedule generator. This allows for a personalized study plan to be built based on the following:

  • Confirmed/projected exam date
  • When you plan to begin studying
  • Desired pace/speed moving through the material
  • Maximum number of study hours per day
  • Desired break days (very helpful for non-traditional students or those who have work or other regular commitments)
  • Ability to choose study materials from various companies:
    • ExamKrackers
    • Kaplan
    • The Princeton Review
    • NextStep
    • The Berkeley Review
    • AAMC Official Content
    • Khan Academy
    • Barron’s
    • Altius
    • UWorld

How long should I study?

Most people feel that three months of full-time studying is adequate in order to achieve their MCAT score goal. Others prefer 6, 9, or even 12 months to prepare for the exam. While there are benefits of studying for longer periods, burnout and forgetfulness of content covered earlier on begins to become a bigger issue. The StudySchedule tool is helpful for determining the amount of time you need based on your study habits, goals, and time available to devote to the exam.

AAMC Official Content (You can purchase the items listed below here)

AAMC Official Content is the most helpful examination preparation material that one can use, because it is written by the people who write the exam! AAMC has many different materials available (some for free and some for purchase). All of these resources are valuable and highly recommended.

AAMC Official Guide– ($35) This outlines the content of the exam and each topic that is tested. This guide also includes a total of 120 questions (30 per section).

MCAT Question Pack Bundle– ($72) This bundle is comprised of a total of 720 questions in a total of six packets. Previous MCAT questions are utilized to form these question packs.

AAMC MCAT Practice Exams 1, 2, and 3 ($35 each) 230 question, full-length exam. These practice tests are the most similar to what you will see on the day of the exam. You will receive results indicating how you performed similar to the results you will receive following the actual exam. They are also the most helpful for determining where to make improvements prior to test day. Side note about full-length (FL) exams: Make sure to take these under “testing conditions.” At the end of the article will be linked information regarding the things that you will be permitted to do/have while at the testing center. It is even important that you wake up each day that you take a FL exam at the time that you will wake up for the actual MCAT.

AAMC Official MCAT Sample Test ($25) 230 question, full-length exam. Most similar to what you will see on the day of the exam. You do not receive a scaled score, but you do receive feedback on your performance. Also helpful for determining where to make improvements prior to test day.

MCAT Section Bank ($45) 300 questions (100 per section- C/P, B/B, P/S). Considered to be the most difficult material provided by AAMC. Very helpful for reviewing content and practicing critical thinking for AAMC-style questions.

MCAT Flashcards ($10) 150 practice questions comprise this deck of flashcards that provide content review in all sections except CARS.

Khan Academy (FREE!) Khan Academy has partnered with the AAMC to provide content review videos, practice questions, and content review for students. Khan Academy covers topics that are provided in The Official Guide for the MCAT.

So… Where do I start?

The MCAT is an exam that will test your ability to synthesize information that you have learned over your entire undergraduate career into a single day full of critical thinking application. The MCAT is a difficult exam, but not impossible by any means. It’s important to have confidence when preparing for the exam; your mindset will carry you on the day of the exam. Study hard, and study with your goal in mind.

Begin by using the StudySchedule generator. Once you have your schedule, stick to it! However, it is important to not forget to give yourself time to relax and recuperate. Allow yourself enough time to complete all of the material that you want to cover, and allow time towards the end of your studying to complete the Official AAMC materials. (You want to take these closer to the exam date as they are most representative of the real thing.) Most people decide to review content and then complete practice questions. While this may work for some, it is important to note that although the MCAT tests content, the MCAT is a multiple choice exam. I am a strong supporter of starting practice questions early! There are hundreds of practice questions available online.

What about the week before/day before/day of the exam?

Relax! Aside from some light flashcard studying the morning before the exam day, resist the urge to study. Your brain has been working harder than it ever has for a long time; give it some rest the day before it has to run the marathon. Make sure to do something that you enjoy the night before. Go see a movie, grab your favorite dinner, and climb into bed early. You have worked very hard for this, and now it is your time to prove to yourself that you can accomplish any goal that you set your mind to when you dedicate your time and effort towards it.

Helpful websites while on your journey to taking the MCAT:

Information about what to expect on test day!
AAMC Pre-Med Facebook
American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) Facebook
Veterinary School Admissions
Podiatry School Admissions

About the Author

Emily Millet works full-time as a paramedic and has been involved in EMS for 6 years. She graduated college in 2017 and is preparing to apply to medical school during the upcoming application cycle.  She enjoys baking, trying new restaurants, and spending time with family.

The post What is the MCAT? appeared first on Student Doctor Network.

By Tony Bartels, DVM, MBA

Several publications generate lists of the “best” veterinary schools using various criteria. Unlike some other professions, which veterinary school you attend likely won’t impact your future earnings or career options. However, which school you attend can have a significant impact upon the price you pay for your veterinary degree. If you, like most veterinary school attendees, finance the majority of your education with student loans, the amount you borrow can have a major impact upon your financial well-being for decades to come. As you consider embarking upon a career in veterinary medicine, let’s look at how you can apply smarter.

Acceptance numbers matter

The AAVMC Veterinary Medical College Application System (VMCAS) is now open for the 2019-2020 school year. How are you going to choose the schools on your application short list?

The 5 schools with most number of applicants among the 30 US schools by total number of applications received for the 2017-2018 school year were:

Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (2,153 applications for 148 seats)
Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (1,607 applicants for 128 seats)
Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine (1,448 applications for 133 seats)
Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine (1,321 applications for 161 seats)
University of Wisconsin – Madison School of Veterinary Medicine (1,309 applications for 96 seats)

This does not mean these are the best veterinary schools and you should rush to include them on your short list. Nor does this mean these are the most competitive and hardest to get into and you should leave them off your short list. Let’s take a closer look at what these statistics do say.

Want to increase your chances of getting into veterinary school?

Total application numbers only tell part of the story. For example, the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (CSU) class of 2021 (entered Fall 2017) received 206 applications from Colorado residents for 71 seats for a 34% admittance rate. That’s better than a 1 in 3 chance of acceptance for Colorado residents. Conversely, CSU received 1,799 applications from applicants outside of Colorado for 51 seats for a 2.8% admittance rate, or a 1 in 35 chance of admission for non-Colorado residents. Assuming you meet all of the application prerequisites, which odds would you rather face?

To continue with the Colorado example, CSU is one of several schools with a special arrangement with certain western states via the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education (WICHE). This allows students from some western states with no veterinary state school to obtain a veterinary education at a lower cost. For example, CSU received 24 applications from New Mexico residents via the WICHE program. Four of those applicants were admitted for an admittance rate of 16.7%, or a 1 in 6 chance of admission for New Mexico WICHE applicants. Those odds are not nearly as good as Colorado residents, but six times better than applying as a Colorado non-resident for the class of 2021.

Some schools have “2+2” arrangements where students complete their first two years of veterinary school at their state school and their final two years with a veterinary school. Again considering CSU as an example, they have a contract with students from Alaska via University of Alaska-Fairbanks. Students admitted through this program also have a better chance of acceptance as well as lower total education costs.

Your take home lesson—make sure you explore all of the potential arrangements with the veterinary schools you’re considering. You can find compiled application statistics and state arrangements for all US schools on the VIN Foundation Vet School Bound website.

Apply Smarter

Increasing your odds of getting into veterinary school by paying attention to residency status can also decrease your potential costs: win-win! Not only will you have better odds of being admitted into a state school if you apply as a resident of that state, in-state costs can be 2-3x less than out-of-state. You may not care much about costs while you’re applying, but your future veterinary self will care very much about any educational debt you take on. The VIN Foundation Cost of Education Map can help you understand cost differences for your targeted veterinary schools.

By using the VIN Foundation Apply Smarter tools, you can increase your odds of getting into veterinary school while also making sure you pay the least amount possible for your education.

With the current student debt crisis, it’s never been more important for you to consider veterinary application statistics and costs. VIN Foundation is here to help you pull this information together in a single resource so you can apply smarter!

About the Author

Dr. Tony Bartels, DVM, MBA graduated in 2012 from the Colorado State University combined MBA/DVM program and is an employee of the Veterinary Information Network (VIN) and a VIN Foundation Board member. He and his wife have more than $400,000 in veterinary-school debt that they manage using federal income-driven repayment plans. By necessity (and now obsession), his professional activities include researching and speaking on veterinary-student debt, providing guidance to colleagues on loan-repayment strategies and contributing to VIN Foundation initiatives.

The post How Choosing the Right Vet School Increase Your Acceptance Chances and Save You Money appeared first on Student Doctor Network.

By Amy Rakowczyk, SDN Staff Writer

Welcome to the new you—“The Doctor’s Spouse.” Yes, you have had your own identity up until this point, but now you are not only a Mrs. or Mr., you’re a Doctor’s Mrs. or Mr. Once people discover this about you, whether it’s intentional or not, their perspective and assumptions of you will change.

Some spouses won’t mind this change and will embrace it. Other spouses may initially feel uncomfortable and judged. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, I invite you to acknowledge this new role you have (whether it’s welcome or not!) and prepare yourself to navigate the world under this umbrella. You can use this situation to discover more about what you really want for yourself and your family and then create an authentic life based on your values, priorities, and desires, not on society’s expectations of a doctor’s family. How? Let’s dive in!

doctor's spouse#1. Expect that people will have outdated and stereotypical assumptions about doctors, their spouses, and gender roles. Let’s help change this.

If you haven’t received the dreaded, “You married a doctor? Good for you! That must be sooo nice!!” response, get ready because you’re due for it. Most people really do have the best intentions in mind when they are responding to someone’s life details, but it often is based upon inaccurate assumptions and could use a bit more thoughtfulness.

Male and female medical spouses will receive different reactions purely based on outdated gender stereotypes. For females, our society has a long history of expecting women to find the “best” spouse (i.e. makes the most amount of money) and to portray a polished and poised presence (i.e. dress and act the part, don’t speak up or create attention). If you’ve checked the “married to a doctor” box, people will congratulate you on a job well done and expect you to have no desire to have your own career or passions. For most of us however, a fulfilling life comes from discovering our talents and using them, no matter what stage of life we’re in or who we’re married to. We have our own contributions that we want to make to our families and communities, and we can choose the best avenue for using our talents to make an impact.

For male medical spouses, people will most likely be caught off guard and have a “Wow! I don’t know what to say!” expression on their faces. It doesn’t compute yet. Even though half of medical school graduates are now female, and they may have a significant other or find one along the way, our society has a deep-seated status quo of men doing the work and making money, and females staying at home and raising children. It’s slowly changing, but we’ll likely continue to experience these outdated thought patterns for most of our spouses’ careers.

When you encounter this typical response, try to curb the desire to give a sassy retort, and provide the person with the benefit of the doubt. Try to think of these comments as an opportunity to help dispel the myth and offer a more realistic view of medicine for them. It’s time to respectfully and kindly set people straight.

Personally, if someone asks me what my husband does, I say, “he’s in medicine.” When pressed for more specifics I respond, “He’s a resident. It’s been a long journey so far, but we’re looking forward to finishing training soon.” If they insert a comment about “how nice it must be,” I respond with humor, something like, “Are you kidding!? It’s terrible!! I’m kidding, of course, but honestly everyone’s got the wrong idea. It’s really hard, but we’re making it work!”

If someone says something more directly about “it must be nice to be so well off,” I respond with “Oh you’re sweet. Actually it’s incredibly expensive and we’re swimming in debt. It’s not the easy money tree people think it is!”

Brainstorm your own way of responding that fits with your personality, and practice it so when the time comes you’ll be prepared. Help change the assumptions about this profession with honest conversation.

#2. Embrace yourself as you are, not as how you think you should be.

I grew up in a small town in New Mexico. My mom worked at a grocery store and my dad worked for a paper supply company. I grew up with humble means. When I met my husband in college (long before he was interested in medicine), I was initially very intimidated by his family. His dad was an aerospace engineer and all of his older siblings had gone to college, graduated, and had prosperous careers. I felt like a “nobody” trying to fit in with a family of “somebodys.”

This wasn’t real of course, it was just thoughts in my head, but I have learned through the years that many of us experience this feeling at some point. When we are in the presence of people who we admire or who seem more educated, well off, or attractive than ourselves, our instinct is to either retreat or to do something to compensate for that uncomfortable feeling. We might try to change ourselves to be more like them, which could bring us farther away from our true selves.

Couple the “nobody vs somebody” business with society’s expectation for us to “fit the part” of a doctor’s spouse—whatever that is—and we can easily feel overwhelmed by the pressure of it all. But, we know the truth. Contrary to social assumptions, there’s no one size fits all for a doctor and a doctor’s spouse. Let’s dispel the myth and embrace who we are now, not how we think we should be.

We all present an image to the world. If you love trends, high-fashion, and nice things, good for you! Enjoy it! If you would rather live in a modest home and wear discount clothing, right on! Don’t look outward for what you should “be like” or “be doing.” Focus on the more important and lasting work that you want to engage in, which is whatever feeds your soul and helps you live an authentic life.

Look inside and discover what speaks to you, and how you want to be a model for those around you. As a doctor’s spouse, your words may carry more weight in your community. People will look to you as a model and follow your lead. How do you want to use this position?

#3. Your new role has financial consequences – both positive and negative.

Once medical training is finished you can celebrate! You and your spouse did it! You’re finally on the other side! Think of all the things you can finally do! This will be an exciting time and well-deserved time.

On the flip side, medical families are at high risk of ending up in financial trouble because they get caught up in “having it all” and living the image of a well-off family. The training system is flawed and sets us up for it. After years, if not a decade of hard work, long hours, and great sacrifice both personally, socially, and financially, doctors almost overnight go from what feels like rags to riches. Many couples will quickly overspend to make up for lost time, or because they feel they deserve whatever they want after paying their dues.

It’s a tricky situation, because you can and should enjoy your new financial abundance, but the key is to have a plan and use your income in a way that fits with your priorities and values, not with a perception society has of what you should have as a doctor’s family.

Another risk to watch out for is that if you and your spouse overspend, and still have massive amounts of debt to repay, your spouse could end up becoming a slave to work, being trapped by the need for more and more money to come in. They will be ripe for burnout and dissatisfaction with their work. This type of situation can actually lead to much less happiness in the long run.

Buy because you like things, not because you’re trying to portray a certain image and status. It’s also essential to create a financial plan and follow it the best you can (more on this next month!). Ask yourself before you purchase something or participate in an activity—will this bring me joy? Your instinctual response will reveal if it’s right for you or not.

So wherever you are in this journey, you will encounter some assumptions about “how you should be,” but remember you are enough and you belong exactly as you are. Find your people within the medical community that you resonate with and that make your soul shine. Also, you are in a position to respectfully correct people’s assumptions about a doctor’s family and help dispel the myths about this profession. Lastly, once you have substantial income in the future, create and keep a financial plan and choose possessions and activities that you enjoy, not what you think you should have.

This medical journey is intense and defining, but you have nothing to prove to anyone. Be yourself and enjoy the ride!

About the Author

Amy Rakowczyk is a medical spouse, mother, writer, singer, and former voice instructor. She currently resides in Galveston, TX with her husband and two young daughters. She enjoys helping other spouses navigate the world of medicine and actively participates in support groups and activities. Her husband is a Family Medicine resident at UTMB Galveston and did his medical training at The Ohio State University.

The post You, The Doctor’s Spouse appeared first on Student Doctor Network.

French Bulldogs, predicted to soon become the most popular dog breed in the UK, are vulnerable to a number of health conditions. Dr Rowena Packer and Dr Dan O’Neill, take us through their new research on this, published in Canine Genetics and Epidemiology.
BMC Veterinary Research and BMC Microbiology are delighted to announce the launch of a joint thematic series on ‘Veterinary Antimicrobial Resistance and Antimicrobial Use’ and its associated ‘Call for papers’. Editors Dr. Hayley Henderson and Dr. Cecilia Devoto talk more about the ideas behind the series.
Dogs have long been considered our best friends, and people often joke that dogs and their owners grow to to look alike over time. In actual fact, the similarities run deeper than we thought, as Luis Pedro Coelho and colleagues demonstrate in their article in Microbiome. Over time, we and our best friends have developed similar gut microbiomes.

By Dave Rathmanner

Unless you’re one of those people who wins every scholarship you apply for, you’ve likely had to take out student loans to pay for your medical degree. In fact, if you’re like most doctors or medical students, you’ve likely had to take out many, many student loans. After all, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, doctors graduate with an average of $190,694 in student debt.

That’s an overwhelming amount of debt to be carrying and, like most medical students or graduates, you’re likely worrying about your repayment. But despite having large amounts of student loan debt, most doctors don’t default on their student loans since their degrees allow them to earn high-paying salaries which make student debt easier to pay off.

But that doesn’t mean that doctors don’t sometimes struggle to repay their student debt. This is especially true for doctors at the beginning of their careers. After all, you graduate and immediately have to complete residencies and fellowships. These don’t pay well, and yet your student loan payments start 6 months after you graduate.

While there are income-driven repayment options for those who have federal student loans, private student loans don’t allow that flexibility. Which means that it can be a struggle to repay student debt and stay on top of rent early in your career. For many recent medical school graduates, that means living in cramped apartments or subsisting on the cup of soup you got out of the vending machine while you were on call. But there are some student loan repayment strategies for medical professionals that could make your repayment easier, faster, and cheaper.

1. Refinance your student loans

One of the downsides of student loans is that most people start taking them out soon after they turn 18. At that age, you haven’t had a chance to establish a credit history or credit score and you don’t make a lot of money if you have a part-time job. That makes you a big credit risk to private lenders and they’ll often charge you higher rates or require that you get a co-signer before they will offer you private loans. But once you graduate with your medical degree, you aren’t just older and wiser, you also likely have a better credit score and a higher income. For that reason, you can often refinance your student loans at a lower rate. That’s not just because interest rates might have gone down while you were in school. It’s also because you’re seen by lenders as more trustworthy and more likely to be able to repay your loan.

When you lower the interest rates on your loans, you can save money by paying less in interest over the life of the loans and you can also reduce your monthly payments. You can then decide to change the term length on your loan in order to reduce your monthly payments further, or reduce your payments that way if you don’t qualify to save on interest. Nowadays, there are even some lenders that offer student loan refinance options for medical residents that allow them to pay nominal amounts or put off their repayment until after they’re done with their residencies.

One thing to watch out for if you’re looking to refinance is the fees. Some refinance lenders will charge you an origination fee on your loan which increases the costs of refinancing, and others charge pre-payment fees which means that you’ll have to pay a penalty if you pay off your debt early.

You can refinance your federal and private student loans, but you only want to refinance your federal student loans if you don’t care about the extra benefits like forbearance, deferment, or income-based repayment programs that federal loans offer. That’s because you’ll lose those benefits when you refinance your loans with a private lender.

2. Make extra payments… or not

If you want to get out of student debt faster, you can try to make extra payments towards your debt. Since those extra payments will go towards the principal of your loan, it will reduce the amount you’ll pay in interest over the life of your loan and help you get out of debt more quickly. How much extra do you have to pay to make a difference? As little as $10, $50 or $100 extra per month can make a huge impact, but the more you pay in addition to your payment the more impact you’ll have.

Of course, you might decide not to try to repay your loans quickly and instead put that extra money towards your retirement plan. Many financial experts say that you’re more likely to get a better return on your money if you do that. That’s because stock markets have historically provided an averaged 6% to 7% return on investments. If you’re paying less than that in interest on your student loans then it makes sense to invest. One of the challenges that doctors face is that they start earning income and investing for retirement later than people in other professions, so your money has less time to grow. By getting started right out of medical school, you will help make up for lost time.

3. Student loan forgiveness programs

There are a lot of different kinds of student loan forgiveness programs available to doctors. For example, if you’re working in the public service, you could qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. There are also programs aimed at those in the military or those who work in research.

These programs will forgive part of your federal student loans after a certain number of years of service. Every program is different and forgives different amounts of your loans. Some will forgive them after ten years of service, while others forgive a portion each year you work in a qualified position. If you were planning on a career in these fields, then this is an added bonus that likely makes up for the cut in salary you’re taking to be there.

But does it make sense to choose your job in order to qualify for student loan forgiveness? It depends. In all likelihood, you would be able to make more money in another type of position—either by opening your own practice or by working for another employer. Of course, you might like more of a work/life balance or want to serve in the military. What it comes down to is what’s right for you—just make sure to do the math before you get swayed by student loan forgiveness programs.

4. Income-Driven Repayment Plans

If you have federal student loans, you can sign up for an income-driven repayment plan. There are a number of different options, but basically different programs like Income-Based Repayment, Income-Contingent Repayment, Pay As You Earn, and Revised Pay As You Earn allow you to pay between 10% to 20% of your discretionary income towards your student loans each month depending on the program. Also depending on the program, after 20 to 25 years of on time payments, your student loans are forgiven. Income-driven repayment plans allow you to save money on your monthly payments while you’re doing your residency and not making as much money. However, it could mean you pay more over the life of your loan since you’ll pay more in interest as you’re repaying your loans more slowly—at least initially while you’re not making as much income.

5. Medical school loan repayment assistance programs

Many states have medical school loan repayment assistance program for physicians who decide to practice in areas that are underserved. The amount that you get in benefit ranges depending on the state and where you live and practice. In Arizona, for example, you can get $65,000 in student loans forgiven if you commit to working in an underserved area for two years. You’ll also get an extra $35,000 in the third year and $25,000 in the fourth. Other states like Colorado give up to $90,000 for three years contracts. Here’s a database that lists what each state provides.

Other things you can do to repay your debt

While these are some great options to help you fast-track your student loan repayment and save money, there are a number of other things that could help you repay your student debt. For example, you might try to get a signing bonus from your employer that you could use as a lump sum payment towards your student debt. Or you might look for an employer who has a student loan repayment program to help you pay off your student debt.

Regardless of how you manage to pay off your student debt, it’s important to remember that though it feels overwhelming, it’s doable. Doctors have significant earning potential, and while it might keep you up at night when you think about how much money you owe, it’s critical that you remember that getting an education was an investment—and it’s one that’s likely going to pay off very well.

About the Author

Dave Rathmanner is the VP of Content for LendEDU – a site dedicated to helping consumers with their personal finances. In his free-time, you can find Dave working out, playing lacrosse, or dreaming about his next dog.

The post Student Loan Repayment Strategies for Medical Professionals appeared first on Student Doctor Network.

A man and a woman step into an elevator wearing the exact same hospital scrub uniforms. The man’s pager suddenly starts beeping and the stranger in the elevator says to him, “Do you doctors really still use pagers?” The stranger then notices the women next to him and asks her, “Oh, are you a nurse?”

It’s something that has happened to every female physician. It’s not that we mind getting mistaken for nurses or any other profession. It’s the underlying notion that a woman cannot be a doctor. It is also an assumption that our male counterparts never deal with. And on that same note, male nurses seem to get asked quite often if they are physicians. But why the overwhelming gender stereotyping?

Is it dependent on how we dress?

When I was an OB/GYN, we wore the same scrubs as the nurses, so I could see why the patients assumed I was also a nurse. Admittedly, this has happened a lot less since I’m a radiologist now (the only medical specialty where women on average make more money than men!). By nature of diagnostic radiology, we are often in office attire and are introduced by the technologist as the doctor as soon as we meet the patient. But still, male physicians wear scrubs all the time and get mistaken far less for a nurse.

Is it because of odds?

I once wore monogrammed scrubs to pick up dinner at a burger joint once. One of the young workers behind the counter immediately asked, “Are you a nurse?” I asked him why he didn’t assume I was a doctor instead and he responded that it was easier to assume someone was a nurse rather than start at a doctor. He said that since there a larger number of female nurses and a larger number of male doctors that his odds of landing my profession was greater. He had a point. The US Census Bureau reported in 2013 that there were 3.5 million employed nurses in 2011, about 3.2 million of whom were female and 330,000 male. Of the 916,000 physicians with an active license in the U.S. in 2014, 66% were male and 32% were female.

Is it because of our appearance?

I once walked outside the hospital to cross the small street to get to the clinic side. I was wearing dress clothes and my white coat when a stranger walking the other way asked me if I was a nurse. I asked him, “Why didn’t you assume I was a doctor?” He had just presumed I was because I looked young. Granted, I can look about 16 years old at times. He laughed and said, “You doctors just get younger and younger, I swear!”

I asked my friends if they also experienced this too. One friend was once at the park with her husband and stepson and a man asked her if she was a nurse. She told me that he assumed she wasn’t a doctor because she was “too pretty to be a doctor”.

Does it stem from an older generation’s “traditional” female and male roles?

When I first met my now-husband’s mother, he introduced me as “This is Karen. She’s in medical school with me”. She immediately said, “Oh, like a nurse?” My husband’s father corrected her immediately. According to my husband, my mother-in-law has always believed that a woman’s role is to stay home, take care of the children, and have dinner ready on the table once her husband got home.

A similar instance occurred during the week of orientation for medical school when one of our classmates had a party in his large backyard. I was chatting with an all-female group of fellow medical students on the patio when our classmate’s mother approached us and asked, “So are you the girlfriends or wives?” My feminist friend firmly told her we were going to be doctors just like her son.

What can we do about the overwhelming gender bias?

Obviously, we can’t change what we wear to work or how we look. But we can change the odds and continue to reverse assumed traditional gender roles.

There is some hope for the physician gender bias to turn: new enrollment in medical school in 2016 was evenly divided between women (49.8 percent) and men (50.2 percent). In addition, the increase in the number of female physicians since 2012 is twice that of male physicians (11% and 5%, respectively).

Unfortunately, it’s going to take more than just outnumbering men in the medical field. In 2014, the Association of American Medical Colleges found that although the number of medical students and residents are evenly divided, females only make up 38% of faculty, 21% of full professors, and only 16% of deans. One study in 2015 found that women accounted for only 13.9% of department chairs across nine major clinical specialties. It’s clear that women need to be hired into much more administrative and leadership roles.

It’s also been well documented that women try to speak less about all their personal achievements then men do. This is due to many factors including the societal norm that a woman should remain modest and less boastful than her male counterparts. So ladies, be proud of your accomplishments and brag away. You worked hard for many, many years and sacrificed enormously so don’t be afraid to boast about your success.

Since that fateful day in the elevator with my husband, I have been mistaken for a profession other than a doctor a few more times. And it is not just the physicians that deal with this. CEOs, business owners, lawyers, pharmacists, the list goes on and on – many women deal with this. And for change to happen, we all need to work together and keep moving forward to decrease gender bias everywhere.

About the Author

Hailing from Orange County, California, Karen Tran-Harding is a radiology resident at the University of Kentucky that found love, education, 1.5 residencies, and two corgis in the heart of the bluegrass.

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The post Q&A with Courtleigh Watson, DVM appeared first on Student Doctor Network.

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