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Debt and income concerns deter medical students from primary care careers
Date:9/21/2012

September 21, 2012 (BRONX, NY) Primary care physicians America's front line healthcare practitioners are usually the first to diagnose illness, refer patients to specialists and coordinate care. Yet, despite that critical role, primary care physicians remain among the lowest paid of all doctors at a time when there's an acute primary care shortage.

A unique longitudinal study of medical students by researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, and North Carolina State University shows how significantly both student debt and income expectations impact the decision of medical students to enter a high-paying specialty rather than primary care.

The study, published online on September 19 in Medical Education, surveyed more than 2,500 medical students attending either New York Medical College or the Brody School of Medicine. Over an 18-year period from 1992 to 2010, students were surveyed in their first and fourth years about the area of medicine they planned to enter, their anticipated debt upon graduation, the annual income they anticipated five years after completing residency, and the importance they placed on income in general.

The study indicates that medical students who anticipated high levels of debt upon graduation and placed a premium on high income were more likely to enter a high-paying medical specialty such as radiology, anesthesiology or dermatology than to enter primary care, which consists of internal medicine, pediatrics and family practice.

According to a 2010 Medical Group Management Association income survey, primary care physicians earned nearly $200,000 per year and those in 12 high-paying specialties selected by the researchers earned double that, with an average of just under $400,000 per year.

"The income gap between primary care and sp
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Contact: Deirdre Branley
sciencenews@einstein.yu.edu
718-430-3101
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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