March 27, 2014

What Next: Physician


Scott: In our What Next segment, we take a look at what comes next after high school and where the jobs will be when you graduate. And a lot of those jobs will be in medicine. There is a shortage of general physicians in the U.S. And to help fill that gap, schools are taking a pretty dramatic step.

Jennifer Han is about to start medical school and she doesn’t have to worry about the $36,000 a year in tuition.

Jennifer Han: I think it is an amazing deal!

Scott: Jennifer is the first student to get that amazing deal from the University of California Riverside Medical School.

Dr. Richard Olds: Basically, you get medical school for free.

Scott: Dr. Richard Olds is the dean. With money donated to the school, he is offering five full-ride scholarships to students who agree to stay in the area for five years after they graduate and who choose primary care – that is like a general physician – rather than specialty fields such as radiology or anesthesiology, which usually rake in the big salaries.

Dr. Olds: Forty percent of the doctors in my community look like me. They’re 55 years of age or older and they will retire in the next ten years. So, the net result of that is we’ll probably have a 5,000 – 6,000 physician deficit in ten years no matter what anyone does.

Scott: His school is located in California’s Inland Empire, where the new healthcare law nicknamed ObamaCare is expected to provide insurance for more than 300,000 people this year. But the area already has a shortage of 3,000 primary care doctors.

Jennifer plans to be a pediatrician, which falls under primary care. But specialists can make twice as much.

Jennifer: That can definitely be enticing in terms of paying back our medical school loans and stuff like that.

Scott: So, what does it take to become a general practitioner? Well, in high school, taking classes in biology, chemistry, math and English will help. Then you will have to spend four years getting an undergraduate degree, and then another four years in med school followed by another three to eight years doing an internship or residency in a hospital. The median income is $180,000 a year. But just as important: there are a lot of jobs.

And if Jennifer sticks with it, she will leave debt-free and her community will have one more doctor it desperately needs.

Now, it is never too early to start thinking about what is next for you. So, for more information on planning for your future career, head on over to


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