Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012
For Medical Students
Debt changes med student career choices, study finds
Medical education debt levels play a significant role in causing medical students to change career choices from primary care to specialty, new research suggests.
An 18-year research study, published in the journal Medical Education, chronicles first- and fourth-year medical student responses to questions on their career aspirations and their expected medical student debt levels. Of the first-year respondents, 54 percent said they aimed for a career in primary care, while 46 percent said they would pursue a career in a higher-paying specialty. Of the fourth-year respondents, 43 percent reported they were pursuing primary care and 57 percent said they were aiming for a specialty.
The results lead the authors to conclude that debt and anticipated income are important concerns that may shape the nation's future workforce of primary care physicians. This apparent trend toward medical student preference for specialties is of great concern because of the impending physician shortage. The Association of American Medical Colleges Center for Workforce Studies estimates a shortage of 63,000 physicians by 2015 and 159,000 by 2025, with primary care physicians experiencing the greatest deficiency.
The AMA is committed to reducing medical student debt, advocating for and recommending reduced student interest rates, expanded tuition assistance and loan forgiveness programs, and making student loan interest tax deductible for borrowers. Read more about the AMA's advocacy on this issue.
Interview initiative shows minority doctors' motivation
Did you know that only about 9 percent of all U.S. physicians are African-American, Hispanic, American Indian, Native Hawaiian or Alaskan Native? Meanwhile, almost 30 percent of the patient population are from these racial and ethnic groups.
Trends such as this demonstrate the need to increase the amount of underrepresented minorities in the field of medicine. The AMA has attempted to analyze these trends through its Physician Interview Project, an effort to learn from minority physicians what helped guide them in their career paths. The initiative aims to ascertain specific determinants that have proven successful in helping minority students pursue medicine as a career.
View an edited video of interviews with several minority physicians and see how these doctors are making a difference. You also can view the entire interview of each participating physician on the Physician Interview Project Web page.