Three essays on medical student debt
As of 2020, the student-loan balances of all graduate students carrying loans was $66,000 (Kantrowitz, 2020). This figure is dwarfed by the average student-loan balance among borrowing medical-school graduates, who averaged $192,000 in student debt (Youngclaus, 2018). Certainly, the cost and length of training as well as the career prospects of graduating physicians differ from those of other fields. Therefore, a study of these unique circumstances is likely to yield valuable results that will be relevant not only to prospective medical-school students and medical-school administrators, but also to those who provide ongoing advice to the next generation of physicians.
This study focuses on the debt behaviors of graduating medical students as well as the repayment behaviors of working physicians. In the first chapter, the characteristics of those who borrow medical student debt are examined. This study uses a national sample of responses from the American Association of Medical Colleges’ (AAMC) Graduation Questionnaire (GQ). Responses to this survey represent almost 84% of all graduating medical students across the U.S. This rich data source provides data on various forms of debt including medical-student, mortgage, auto, and credit-card debt.
The next two studies use data from graduates of Michigan State University’s College of Human of Medicine for analysis. Each respondent replies to a survey two, six, and ten years after graduation, which permits study of not only debt acquisition, but also debt repayment behavior. In the second chapter, the associations of debt behaviors and satisfaction (i.e., overall satisfaction as well as satisfaction with a career in medicine) are observed. As differences are found in satisfaction levels based on gender and based on trends observed in the studies of prior literature, the third paper observes the relationships of gender and debt behaviors as well as race and debt behaviors (i.e., debt acquisition and repayment).