Don't "Deal" with Debt... Build a financially sustainable life.
Student loan debt keeps growing for Veterinarians. If you are a veterinarian, or a veterinarian student, focusing on the industry's debt issues won't solve the problem for you. Your debt is already earned. It is sunk cost. Nothing can be done by any association, nor ivory tower academics is going to take the debt away. Time is best spent creating a financially sustainable life.
I read in the trade journals, online articles and hear from clients and students about the student debt problem. It is very significant for many of my clients, but many of them have been quietly saving, building wealth, and paying down debt. I'm continually impressed at the resolve I see in people with high amounts of debt. So often they find a way to make it work. When they do, nobody publishes articles about them or throws a big party in their honor. The heroic efforts of these individuals go unnoticed, and the constant negative drum-beat continues.
Perhaps these individuals don't share their success because they don't want to make others that are struggling financially feel bad. It really is hard to see someone who feels stuck financially, losing hope. Feelings of hopelessness often accompany high debt loads when someone doesn't see a path to success. We need to give people a path to success.
What's the path to success?
Financial success (with or without high debt load) is simple. I didn't say easy, I said simple. There are lots of details which matter, but I find its most productive to focus on these four items, in order.
Context: Recognize where the wealth comes from, You!
A veterinarian's ability to apply their knowledge and skills are valuable. How valuable? Over $4,000,000 of cash flow during a 40 year career in today's dollars. Add inflation of 2.5% and the cash flow increases to over $8,000,000. That money is earned over a 40 year career, but we can calculate the current value of these earnings by discounting future payments. If we use a 4% discount rate as suggested by this AVMA PhD, then the current value of a veterinarians ability to work exceeds $3M. Compare this to the average student loan debt of a new DVM $170K. Yes $170K is a large number, but it is dwarfed by and $3,000,000 present value of future earnings.
Given what we know about the value of practitioners, financial success (with or without high debt load) is simple. I didn't say easy, I said simple. There are lots of details which matter, but I find its most productive to focus on these four items, in order.