By Dan Miller, WCI Contributor

When deciding what to study in school or what profession to join, there are many different factors that might go into that decision. Specifically with medicine, there might be many reasons someone might choose to become a doctor. Many aspiring physicians have a genuine love for medicine, helping patients, or both. Others may be following in the footsteps of their parents or other loved ones. Still others may be in it primarily for the money. For many people, it may be a combination of these and other factors. Still, if you are considering becoming a physician, you might ask if becoming a doctor is worth it.


How to Become a Doctor

You might think that the first step in becoming a doctor is getting into medical school, but the truth is that preparing to become a doctor starts much earlier. You'll need to make sure that you're preparing even before you enter medical school. Making sure that you get the grades you need, participating in activities to put on your application, picking the right major in college, and improving your soft skills and study habits are all important steps.

If you're wondering how many years medical school lasts, it is generally four years of medical school, but after that, physicians will enter a multi-year residency. Depending on the specialty, this residency may last even longer or require an additional specialized program. An MD/MBA combination or an MD/PhD program is another option for some physicians.

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How Much Does It Cost to Become a Doctor?

One of the reasons it costs so much to be a doctor is the sheer number of years that you are in medical school. In addition, medical school is specialty schooling, which also contributes to the cost. While it may be possible to graduate medical school debt-free, many graduates end up with quite a bit of student loan debt. If you're trying to determine how much it costs to become a doctor, there are many different ways to pay for medical school, and depending on your route, you may end up with hundreds of thousands of dollars of medical school debt.

is becoming a doctor worth it

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How Much Do Doctors Make?

Trying to decide if medical school is worth the money depends a great deal on how much physicians make. There is a wide range of incomes among different medical specialties, with many millionaire doctors choosing specialties like cardiology, urology, plastic surgery, or orthopedics. Meanwhile, doctors in lower-paying specialties (like pediatricians and family medicine docs) earn less (though still above the national income average).

There is a lot that can go into choosing a medical specialty, and the medical specialty you choose depends on a number of different factors. While some people may consider the highest-paid medical specialties as the best medical specialties, others may want to think of the happiest medical specialties when deciding on a field of study.


Do Most Physicians Regret Becoming Doctors?

While most doctors don't regret becoming doctors according to the latest Medscape survey, it is true that some doctors feel trapped in medicine. Having a high income does not always translate to a high doctor net worth or a high doctor quality of life. Still, the most recent Medscape survey stated that 73% of physicians would choose medicine again. If you are currently a practicing physician and considering leaving the profession, you might consider asking yourself these five questions.

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The Bottom Line

There are many reasons that people decide to become doctors and many different specialties that one can choose to practice. While nearly all physicians make incomes that are above the national average, not all physicians are millionaire doctors. Additionally, having a high income doesn't always mean that all doctors are rich. While the average doctor net worth may be higher than that of many other professions, many physicians, due to the high cost and average student loan debt for doctors, must use their high incomes to pay off their medical school loans.

Deciding if becoming a doctor is worth it will depend on a number of different factors. It's important to think about why you want to be a doctor before deciding to spend many years in medical school and residency. While it can be reasonable to consider the high earning potential of being a doctor, it shouldn't be the only reason to go into medicine as a career. Physician burnout is a real thing, and finding a medical specialty with the best quality of life can go a long way to being a doctor with a good work-life balance. Having a positive work-life balance as a doctor in addition to a healthy income will make it more likely for you to decide that being a doctor is worth it.


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