Being a physician assistant in the 'boomerang generation'

After assessing the costs of student loan bills and rent or a mortgage, physician assistant Jillian Knowles opted to "boomerang" back to her parents' house.

Being a physician assistant in the 'boomerang generation'
Being a physician assistant in the 'boomerang generation'

After a long day of work, I pack up my stethoscope, hop in my car, and drive home. To my parents' house. As in, the house I grew up in — because, that's right ladies and gentleman, I am a proud and defining member of the "boomerang generation."

The boomerang generation was aptly given its title due to the growing number of young men and women who leave for college, get a degree, and bounce back home. Or as it was in my case, you take it a step further and go away to college, return home, get a master's degree with a top-rated job, then stay at home and never move out.  

When I realized that staying at home during PA school would save me about $30,000 in living expenses, my decision to return back to my roots was made. Adding that expense to the $150,000 student loan debt I would accrue by the time I graduated, the choice was simple.

I also think that living at home was the key to surviving PA school because my wonderful parents are the only reason I ate anything more than cereal during those two years. They served as my cheerleaders and therapists as I made my through the unbelievable stress unique to PA school. I often think their names should be added to my diploma.

My decision to stay at home after I graduated PA school was made when my father informed me that I would be paying $15 a day in interest on top of my towering student loan debt. I was astounded; this was not the position I thought I would be in as I approached my late twenties.

Although I do pay a small monthly rent, it is nothing compared to what I would pay if I lived by myself, and it has allowed me the opportunity to try and tackle my loans before getting sucked into further debt. And to be honest, I don't need to live away from my parents at this time.

My parents are very fun and they enjoy having a child “back in the nest,” because they confessed that it keeps them from feeling old. Along with the amount of time spent at work, with my friends and with my boyfriend, I am not home enough to justify spending money on an empty apartment.

Perhaps the greatest part about this situation is that I work with several other PAs who are in the same position as me. We are all recent graduates with professional jobs, and we refuse to leave mom and dad. To us, it doesn't make sense to pay both sky rocketing student loan rates along with a monthly rent. We'll get there eventually, but we're taking it one step at a time.

I don't think my neighbors understand the situation, because they often ask me questions such as “do you babysit,” “when do you graduate,” and “what are you going to be for Halloween?”  But these questions are well worth the fresh pots of coffee and homemade dinners that make living at home extremely enjoyable.

When I was in high school, I said I would move out right after college. When I graduated PA school, I said I would move out when I was 28. Now that I'm slowly approaching 28, I've made no plans to leave.

I understand that not everyone is as fortunate as I am to be able to stay in this position, and I'm thankful for the opportunity to focus on paying off my loans before paying a mortgage as well.

My boomerang friends and I often laugh, because we never saw ourselves ending up in this position at this point in our lives, and we can't wait to tell our grandkids about how we truly define the boomerang generation.

While I could go on and on about this topic, I really have to go, I think my mom's brewing a fresh pot of coffee.

Jillian Knowles, MMS, PA-C, is an emergency medicine physician assistant in the Philadelphia area.

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