High debt and low starting salaries leave some medical professionals concerned 

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Some medical professional degrees are saddling students with debt and providing low starting salaries, The Wall Street Journal reported Dec. 1. 

Graduates from veterinary, chiropractic medicine, dentistry, physical therapy and optometry have some of the worst ratios of high debt and low starting salaries, according to new data from the Education Department. 

The advice debt counsellors give to prospective students is not to take on loans that exceed a single year of earnings post-graduation, citing difficulties repaying them. However, around 76 percent of professional programs left students with higher debt at graduation than earnings two years later. 

According to the American Dental Education Association, 2020 dental school graduates with federal loans owed an average of almost $305,000, while Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that the median salary for dentists in 2020 was $164,000. 

Chiropractic graduates also had some of the worst debt, with all the professional programs that published federal loan data showing median debt that was at least three times median earnings.

John C. Baker, PhD, professor and dean emeritus of Michigan State University's veterinary medicine program, told the Journal that although students can't afford the debt, they may still apply to programs given the strong motivation from the emotional element of the career. 

"They seem willing to overborrow or overpay for what they're getting," he said. 

This may also hold true for jobs in the healthcare industry.

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