Education debt is tragically driving decisions to shun primary care

LETTER — Posted Dec. 12, 2005

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Regarding "Medical debt seldom affects career choice" (AMNews, Oct. 3): The facts are correct, but the attitude should be one of dismay rather than jubilation. This sidebar article notes that the nearly 20% of medical students who have debt that exceeds $150,000 are tragically steered away from primary care because of their burden. The article also notes that it is minorities who both have the highest average debt and are most likely to plan to serve an underserved population.

The article seems to ask us to take heart. Instead, my heart sinks. The AMA has tremendous policy on medical education debt, and our publications should reflect it. We must do a better job of directing our efforts to alleviate the debt burden of those who wish to serve the underserved. As we "help doctors help patients," we must help medical students become those doctors they dream of being rather then the ones they can afford to be.

David A. Rosman, MD, Cambridge, Mass.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2005/12/12/edlt1212.htm.

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