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.
career choice educational debt loan burden decision making