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You’re Not Alone: Many Doctors Need Help Navigating Student Loan Debt

student loan debt, medical school, dental school, veterinary school

Most doctors, whether physicians, dentists or veterinarians, graduate with significant educational debt. According to the Education Data Initiative, on average, physicians graduate with about $241,600 in debt, dentists with $292,169, and veterinarians with $183,302

The number of medical, dental and veterinary school graduates with educational debt is high, with 76-89% of medical school graduates and 83% of both dental and veterinary school graduates graduating with student debt.

Needless to say, no matter your educational loan burden and your journey to repay, you are not alone. To illustrate this point, we asked three financial planners how often their doctor clients ask for advice on managing their student loans.

Read what Meredith Jones, DVM, CSLP®, associate financial planner at Vincere Wealth and veterinarian, Benjamin Bush, CLU, ChFC, managing partner at Northeast Sequoia Private Client Group, and Josh Lantz, CRPC®, chief investment officer & financial advisor at MD Financial Advisors, experience with their clients.

Answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.

How often are your doctor clients asking for advice on their student loans?

MJ: It’s one of the most common concerns for our clients, and especially the doctors who are early in their careers. There’s certainly a lot of confusion surrounding student debt and repayment strategies.

I’m a veterinarian, and I know what it’s like to have six-figure student debt. It can be a huge weight psychologically, and it takes up a lot of mental space for many doctors when they’re thinking about their finances.

BB: It has been a little less common just because of the federal government moratorium on payments, which is to say we are talking about it, but not at the same length that we were two to two and a half years ago.

Over the course of the last year, it’s really been a number of conversations around: do we want to refinance to lock in an interest rate today with the idea that we probably might miss three, six, nine months of no payments, but to have your ongoing payments locked at a lower interest rate? Or do we want to roll the dice, wait until the moratorium’s up, then see what’s available? 

The dialog has changed a bit, but we’re still talking about quite a lot because for a lot of our doctors, it’s still the largest number on their balance sheet.

JL: I’d say if they’re under age 45, 90% of the time. It’s really only those situations where they came from a wealthy family or maybe they’re from another country that they don’t have student loans. In most cases, they’re going to have student loans, and most of the time they have $300,000 to $400,000 in student loans.

I always remind them everyone’s in the same boat. Everyone’s got these student loans, and you shouldn’t feel bad. That’s just part of becoming a doctor.

Read more about student loans

We spoke to Meredith, Benjamin, and Josh about several other topics surrounding doctors’ student loans. Learn how other doctors are paying (or not paying) their federal student loans during the student loan payment pause, the benefits and drawbacks of paying off your debt early, and these experts’ essential financial advice.

Check out:

Get help with your student loans

If you need help navigating your debt burden, there are people who can help. Our Build Your Team program connects you to a financial advisor for free. Don’t face the challenges of becoming and being a doctor alone.

Material discussed is meant for general informational purposes only and is not to be construed as tax, legal, or investment advice. Although the information has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable, please note that individual situations can vary. Therefore, the information should be relied upon only when coordinated with individual professional advice.

Guardian and its subsidiaries do not issue or advise with regard to student loans. Guardian, its subsidiaries, agents and employees do not provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. Consult your tax, legal, or accounting professional regarding your individual situation.

Registered Representative and Financial Advisor of Park Avenue Securities LLC (PAS). OSJ: 200 BROADHOLLOW ROAD, SUITE 405, MELVILLE NY, 11747, 631-5895400. Securities products and advisory services offered through PAS, member FINRA, SIPC. Financial Representative of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America® (Guardian), New York, NY. PAS is a wholly owned subsidiary of Guardian. NORTHEAST PRIVATE CLIENT GROUP is not an affiliate or subsidiary of PAS or Guardian. CA Insurance License Number – 0H30562, AR Insurance License Number – 8196746. Guardian, its subsidiaries, agents and employees do not provide tax, legal, real estate or accounting advice. Consult your tax, legal, or accounting or real estate professional regarding your individual situation. The information provided is based on our general understanding of the subject matter discussed and is for informational purposes only. 2023-149081, Exp. 1/2025

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