Theoretical Medicine

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 217–229

Medicine as a career: Choices and consequences

  • Karen Eschenbach
  • Robert S. Woodward

DOI: 10.1007/BF00489440

Cite this article as:
Eschenbach, K. & Woodward, R.S. Theor Med Bioeth (1989) 10: 217. doi:10.1007/BF00489440


Medicine has traditionally been regarded as a rewarding career both financially and socially. How true, however, is that tradition in today's world of rising costs and decreasing revenues? The educational debt of the physician-in-training is steadily increasing, and currently does not affect specialty choice. As the cost of medical education continues to rise, the applicant pool begins to shrink, thereby possibly affecting the quality of future physicians. Once the physician has completed training however, the majority enjoy a positive return on investment. Their incomes generally fail to remain ahead of inflation, and therefore, have remained within a narrow band of $40,000 in 1970 dollars. Finally, the demand for physician services cannot be attributed solely to either the consumer (patient) or to the supplier (physician). Rather, the demand for medical services appears to be a unique combination of the two. In conclusion, medicine still is an attractive career path, but the choices and consequences are becoming much more demanding.

Key words

cost of medical educationdemand for medical care serviceseducational indebtednessfinancial rewards of medicineindebtedness and specialty choicemedical economicsreturn on investmentsupply of physicians

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karen Eschenbach
    • 1
  • Robert S. Woodward
    • 2
  1. 1.Massachusetts General Hospital, AdministrationBostonUSA
  2. 2.Health Administration ProgramWashington University School of MedicineSt. LouisUSA