The cost of becoming a pediatric neurologist varies wildly depending on the types of schools you attend. The costs associated with pursuing a career in any medical specialty are enormous. Beginning in high school -- if you attend a private school -- and continuing through undergraduate and medical school, the costs can be staggering. Even graduating from medical school doesn't ensure that you'll be done spending (or losing) money. The cost of becoming a doctor is often cited as one reason for the high salaries of doctors and steep health care costs.
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Although not all physicians, even pediatric neurologists, attend private, or prep, schools, many do. And any aspiring pediatric neurologist whose family could afford to pay for it would attend such an institution. The dog-eat-dog application process for prestigious colleges and universities often begins with a similar competition for equally prestigious prep schools. The National Association of Independent Schools, in a 2010 survey, found that the median yearly cost for tuition at private day and boarding schools (grades 9 through 12) was $21,026.
Again, attending a prestigious university isn't a prerequisite to becoming a pediatric neurologist, but it doesn't hurt. According to a University of North Carolina study for the 2010-2011 school year, public university annual costs for tuition and fees range from $5,238 at Florida State University (in-state students) to $40,682 at the University of Colorado (out-of-state students). A private school, such as Ivy League member Princeton, will run more than $50,000, according to Princeton's Profile web site. That's $36,640 for tuition, $6,467 for room, $5,473 for board, and $3,600 for books and miscellaneous expenses, for a total of $52,180. That's per year, for a four-year total (minus inflation) of $208,720.
There are a lot of medical schools in the country, including quite a few that offer neurology programs. But Harvard is ranked No. 1 in most surveys, so let's use Harvard Medical School costs. For the 2010-2011 school year, the school estimates that a first-year medical student will pay approximately $70,000. That figure is based on tuition costs of $45,050, $18,600 for living expenses, $2,798 for books and supplies and miscellaneous fees. Again, multiply by four years.
At the high end, a potential pediatric neurosurgeon would spend (or his parents would spend) about $63,000 for prep school, almost $209,000 for his undergraduate education and approximately $280,000 while in medical school, for a total education cost of $552,000. Of course, this total doesn't take into account any earlier prep school costs, but it also doesn't take into consideration scholarships or need-based aid that would help defer costs. The total also doesn't factor in the lost wages for the years spent as an intern and resident. Although interns and residents are paid, their salaries are modest compared to other professionals their age. Most residents earn in the neighborhood of $35,000 a year, with modest increases each year, according to Health Internship.com. Pediatric neurologists serve a minimum four-year residency, often followed by further training via fellowships, so that a typical neurologist has earned about $175,000 in salary ($35,000 x 5 years of residency) by the time he's 30 years old. The bottom line is that there are a limited number of slots for pediatric neurologists -- in practice, in medical schools and in residency programs. The competition is fierce, so a path of prestigious prep school followed by expensive undergraduate school followed by even more expensive medical school isn't unusual.