4 key thoughts on how physician debt impacts the healthcare system

Practice Management

Providers spanning the nation are facing rising costs and debt, with medical student graduates having an average debt surpassing $150,000, according to Forbes.

Here are four key thoughts on how physician debt impacts the healthcare system.


1. Less people may opt to pursue a medical career. While medical school applicants are currently at an all-time high, this is not to say that falling salaries and rising burnout rates may not deter people from entering the medical field in future years, Forbes reports.


2. A less diverse medical field. If debt is rising, people from many backgrounds may not be able to go to medical school. The New England Journal of Medicine published a study finding more than 50 percent of U.S. medical students are from families within the top quintile for family income.


3. A changing physician-patient relationship. Debt may drive physicians to work to generate more profits to sustain their practice. This may come from taking on more patients, which may impact the amount of facetime providers have with patients. Additionally, the need to drive profits may cause providers to turn away underserved patient populations.


4. A shift toward specialization. To accrue more money to offset debt, many medical school graduates may opt to go into specialty care. Specialists are reimbursed at higher rates than their primary care specialists, on average.


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