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Grey's Anatomy: How Not to Pay for School

Grey's Anatomy: How Not to Pay for School

Dr. Isobel Stevens on Grey's Anatomy: her character paid for medical school by becoming an underwear model. Most students must find other ways of financing their education.

Pam Strayer, AllHealthCare

On Grey’s Anatomy, the popular television series about doctors in training, Dr. Isobel (Izzie) Stevens, the beautiful blond surgeon played by Katherine Heigl, puts herself through medical school as an underwear model under the fictional alias “Bethany Whisper."

During the show’s first season, Izzie often gets recognized by male patients, but defends her choice to other residents, pointing out that she won’t be facing massive medical school debts when she becomes a doctor.

Average Med School Debt = $120,000

Obviously Izzie’s choice was not the usual way to finance a medical education. But the desire to be debt free at graduation is a healthy goal. In 2005, the average new doctor’s medical school debts were $120,000, according to the American Association of Medical Colleges.

Average Four Year Degree Debt = $16,000 – $20,000

Most four year college degree students graduate with student debt between $16,000 (public schools) and $20,000 (private colleges).

In health care, there is a way to avoid having to pay for school at all – although you will have to work at finding your way through the maze, health care is a great career because many programs can help you finance your education.

The shortage of trained workers in health care amounts to crisis, and that crisis works to your advantage. The bigger the health care worker shortage gets, the more willing government and employers are to forgive student loans, provide scholarships and/or free tuition to employees, and sweeten the pie with signing bonuses.


If you’re not yet in school you can look into scholarships specifically for allied health professions. Our scholarship finder can help you search thousands of scholarships nationwide.

Zero Student Loan Debt: Make the System Work for You

If you are already a graduate, you can find ways to reduce your student loan debt to zero.

Student Loan Forgiveness Programs

Many state governments offer allied health care loan forgiveness in exchange for practicing in an underserved area. The federal government has similar programs.

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