I have to constantly remind myself to never read the comment section of an article. I want to read them because I am interested in hearing others opinions and seeing both sides to a story, however, what ends up happening is I just get angry. Angry that people are unwilling to listen or even pretend like maybe there is a view other than their own. Angry that they are unwilling to do a little research before they open their mouths. Trust me I’m not perfect but I also try very hard not to comment on things I don’t feel I have tried to understand first.
So what has me so riled up? Student debt. Understandably a very sensitive topic. On one side you have people wanting to get an education and enter the career they’ve always dreamed up but with the rising cost of tuition, are having trouble paying back their loans. On the other side you have people who feel that if you can’t pay them back then you should have borrowed them in the first place. Honestly, I understand both sides and try to stay neutral. Both have valid points. So if I try to be so neutral and not get involved in this dance, what has me so upset?
There was an article about a veterinarian with over $500,000 in student debt. This is not the amount she originally borrowed but what she is up to now. The comments were heartbreaking and down right nasty. Saying that this women is an idiot, etc, etc for not understanding money. There is no place for that and you don’t know her situation, which sadly isn’t unique for most veterinarians. For example, I am almost up to $400,000 in student debt. I have absolutely zero credit card debt or any other debt. I am on an income based repayment plan (which includes both my income and my spouses) as well as making extra payments on my highest interest rate loan. I understood how much veterinary school cost before applying and was well aware that this would be the case. We also try very hard to live within our means and as previously stated make extra payments towards my loans.
Here’s what pissed me off though. Some of the comments stated that seeing a veterinarian cost more than seeing a physician. I’m sorry but I have never once found this to be true. Perhaps if you are only considering your copay and not your total cost including insurance coverage. Unfortunately most pet owners don’t have pet insurance and so you pay out-of-pocket. This means you see the actual cost of the care you received which still tends to be much cheaper than what your insurance pays at a human hospital. The other incredibility upsetting comment was when someone posted, let’s just say the veterinarian makes $250,000. This is so wrong that it’s down right laughable. I don’t know a single veterinarian that makes that much money, honestly the specialist don’t even make this much money. The average veterinarian makes between $75,000-90,000. Yes, this is still a good amount of money but the average student debt out of school is $175,000. I was out-of-state (there are only about 30 vet schools in the US) so I was obviously on the higher end of the debt scale. It seems to be a common myth among people that veterinarians make the same amount as their human doctor counterparts, but this simply isn’t true. In my opinion human doctors work very hard to make what they earn and that is not my concern here but instead the misconception that we make equally as much. With my current salary and where I live I make the equivalent of a nurse who has a bachelor’s degree. The work they do is important and I am grateful for all of their hard effort. Again the concern is the misconception about our own salary.
I am not writing this for you to feel bad for me or requesting help to pay my student loans (although I don’t know anyone who would turn down that offer). I am writing this to vent and state my own frustrations about misconceptions. I chose my career because I love animals and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Yes I could have made more money in many other fields but that’s not what’s important to me. I love your pets and want to see them happy and healthy. Please don’t judge me and degrade me (or other veterinarians) for our student debt concerns. I don’t know how I’m going to pay back my loans and I know they will be over my head for years to come. I am working towards one day being free but every month when I see I’m not even covering the full interest (other than the one loan I’m paying off) it makes me want to break down in tears. I want a family, I want a house, and I don’t want to be holding my husband back with my debt. But unfortunately this is the situation I chose to be in. That doesn’t make it okay for you to call me or any other person in this situation an idiot or bad with money etc. etc. We’re doing our very best, I promise, and your mean and degrading comments aren’t helping us in any way.