ARE YOU SITTING DOWN? US medical student educational debt at least $1.7 BILLION

The USA medical school class of 2012 reported having at least $1.7 billion in education debt after earning their M.D. degrees. Among 2012 graduates, 86 percent reported having education debt, according to a new report from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) called “Physician Medical Debt and the Cost to Attend Medical School, 2012 Update”.

MD students at the University of Hawai`i John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) are themselves carrying millions of dollars in debt. In 2012, 48 of JABSOM’s 66 first-year MD students already owed a total of $2.2 million.

Measured by AAMC in 2012, MD graduates of JABSOM on average graduated with $104,000 educational debt. (The national median was $170,000.)

Nationally, debt levels for indebted medical school graduates have been rising faster than inflation over the last 20 years. On average, the median amount of education debt for graduates has increased 6.3 percent per year since 1992, compared with 2.5 percent for the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Median 4 year cost of attendance (COA) at medical school:

For the Class of 2013, the median in-state four-year COA across all schools rounds to $228,200.

What influences specialty choice?

There was some good news in the report about how MD graduates choose the specialty in which they plan to practice. It has often been speculated that the rising student indebtedness has forced many MDs to pursue higher-paying specialties. But this is how US medical students polled by AAMC in 2012 actually described which factor was the most influential in which specialty they choose:

  • Personality fit 98.3%
  • Specialty content 98.1%
  • Work life balance 77.3%
  • Role model influence 67%
  • Income expectations 47.5%
  • Education debt 27%

What about Scholarships? 

Although there are 50 percent more public medical schools than private, public schools report half the gifts and endowment funds compared with their private counterparts. ($1.3 billion in gifts and endowment revenue at US public schools, whereas the 51 private medical schools reported $2.6 billion.) There are relatively few “full-ride” scholarships offered in the US.

If you would like to make a gift to benefit students of JABSOM, you may do so securely, on line at:  University of Hawaii Foundation






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