Brief Reports

Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 143-145

First online:

The impact of educational loan burden on housestaff career decisions

  • Dale BergAffiliated withthe Department of General Internal Medicine, Zablocki VA Medical CenterMedical College of Wisconsin, and the Department of Ambulatory Care (DB, JCB), Zablocki VA Medical Center
  • , James CerlettyAffiliated withthe Internal Medicine Residency Program, Zablocki VA Medical Center
  • , James C. ByrdAffiliated withthe Department of General Internal Medicine, Zablocki VA Medical CenterMedical College of Wisconsin, and the Department of Ambulatory Care (DB, JCB), Zablocki VA Medical Center

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Abstract

The past decade has seen declining interest in primary care medicine and a dramatic increase in the cost of a medical degree. Seventy-nine percent of housestaff in an internal medicine residency program responded to a survey to determine whether medical school loan burden was related to career choice in a primary care field or specialty area. Overall mean indebtedness was $45,185 (median $40,000). Thirty-eight percent of residents with debts < $40,000 chose a career in primary care, compared with 10% with debts > $40,000 (chi square =9.44, p<0.01). Fourteen percent of those with debts <40,000 and 59% with debts > $40,000 stated that financial conditions had a moderate to marked impact on their career decision making. Excessive loan burden has a significant influence on residents’ career decision making and a negative influence on choosing careers in primary care internal medicine.

Key words

career choice educational debt loan burden decision making