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Student Loan Manuscript: A Memorable Family Collaboration

As a multi-generational family collaboration, my first formally published manuscript (in the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacists) was an incredibly rewarding experience. I should preface this article by letting you know that I grew up in a family of nerds… My family’s dinner table conversations generally range from therapeutics to analyzing sentence structure. So no, we’re not “cool” people.

Naturally, this idea started over breakfast at Fenwick’s with my sister, faculty at Belmont College of Pharmacy, nearly three years ago. It might have even been my birthday. We were sharing generic stories about the cost of healthcare – specifically pharmacy – training and the resulting student loan burden. She had a few students who were expressing a lot of anxiety to her, and since I had recently engaged in some very nuanced & complex #StudentLoanPlanning, I was able to validate those concerns! So, a few cups of coffee and [no fewer than] one beignet later, the idea was self-evident: we needed to share the complexities of loan [forgiveness] planning to the pharmacy community from the perspective of a pharmacist AND a financial planner.

From there, we started to gather data and compile information for what would become a case-based review of “influencing factors” in student loan planning. Three anonymous clients of Cairn Financial Group agreed to have their cases shared; keep in mind that these cases are not THAT complex at the surface! All clients were married, and each spouse had student loans. In essence, that was it. Their loan profiles were NOT messy or complicated, just Federal Direct Loans… But each couple was faced with three decisions: whether to (1) refinance/conventionally amortize their loans, or (2) pursue some type of #LoanForgiveness, and if so (3) how to file taxes.

The complications simply came from various life factors such as incomes, family considerations, career expectations, and in one case, having missed 6 years’ worth of PSLF qualifying payments due to misinformation.

At this point, the stage was set for us to begin our manuscript. Naturally, life got in the way and our distractions resulted in each of us forgetting about the project for a year. However, shortly after the University of Tennessee College of Pharmacy approached me about teaching their personal financial planning course, we brought this back into focus. This time, however, we decided to include our dad (also a #Pharmacist).

Over the course of 6+ months, we honed, refined, and iterated our manuscript many times until it emerged as what is published today. We don’t attempt to offer solutions – that’s not the point. We attempt to offer clarity around the building blocks of loan planning in hopes of empowering you to find your own solution.

I’m proud of our finished product, but as you can imagine, the three of us – father, daughter, and son – did NOT always work well together… At times, I was very frustrated with each of them (of course I haven’t heard any reports that either of them were frustrated with me…), but as we were all reviewing the article together at my parents’ house on Christmas Eve in 2020, it really settled in with me just how meaningful the entire experience had been. My family has always been close, but this was the first time we had ever done any sort of professional work together. Even my mother was able to step in and help review along the way! I was especially grateful for the timing of the whole thing – the process happened while my sister and I were maturing in our careers but prior to my father’s retirement. We made a great team. I don’t know if I’ll ever publish an academic piece again (as I certainly could not have done this without my co-authors… All that academic jargon was exhausting), but this one will always stand out as special to me.

We’re a group of nerds. Even though that’s never been debated, it’s now been published. Take a look at our abstract to see for yourself. Better yet, if you’re a subscriber to AJHP, dive into the manuscript and learn from our collaboration.

Read our publication HERE

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