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What Are the Opportunity Costs of Self-Financing Medical Education?

Nguyen, Oanh Kieu MD, MAS; Makam, Anil N. MD, MAS

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000001974
Letters to the Editor
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SDC

Assistant professor, Departments of Internal Medicine and Clinical Sciences, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas; ORCID: http://orcid.org/0000-0002-4614-0215; OanhK.Nguyen@UTSouthwestern.edu.

Assistant professor, Departments of Internal Medicine and Clinical Sciences, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas; ORCID: http://orcid.org/0000-0001-7072-9946.

Disclosures: None reported.

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To the Editor:

We read with great interest the recent study from Marcu and colleagues1 comparing the effectiveness of various financing strategies for medical school education. One critical factor that was not included in the investigators’ otherwise meticulous models was the potential opportunity cost of self-financing a medical education. For those who self-finance, the money they pay in tuition could have been invested with equivalent or higher returns than the interest rates on educational loans.

Given that the investigators did not take into account the opportunity cost of self-financing medical education, it seems that they arrived at an intuitively obvious conclusion—that starting one’s medical career without any debt is the most advantageous in the long run. Understanding the influence and magnitude of potential opportunity cost is essential to enabling prospective medical students and families to weigh the decision of investing family resources into self-financing medical school versus diverting these resources into other equally high-priority family investments (i.e., retirement, stocks, housing).

Oanh Kieu Nguyen, MD, MAS

Assistant professor, Departments of Internal Medicine and Clinical Sciences, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas; ORCID: http://orcid.org/0000-0002-4614-0215; OanhK.Nguyen@UTSouthwestern.edu.

Anil N. Makam, MD, MAS

Assistant professor, Departments of Internal Medicine and Clinical Sciences, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas; ORCID: http://orcid.org/0000-0001-7072-9946.

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Reference

1. Marcu MI, Kellermann AL, Hunter C, Curtis J, Rice C, Wilensky GR. Borrow or serve? An economic analysis of options for financing a medical school education. Acad Med. 2017;92:966–975.
© 2017 by the Association of American Medical Colleges