After Graduation, Medical Students Express Both Satisfaction and Concerns

Dec 11, 2013, 9:29 AM

What’s on the minds of this year’s medical school graduates? Among top concerns for the country’s future physicians are uncertainty about health care reform, practice choices, and debt repayment, according to the 2013 Medical School Graduation Questionnaire administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). Overall, most medical students say they are satisfied with their education.

The 2013 graduates in the new survey report an average premedical education debt of $11,849, which is about eleven percent more than students reported in 2012. This ends a four-year trend in which the average premedical debt had been decreasing. In addition, the 2013 graduates report an average medical education debt of $135,084—an increase of two percent from 2012 graduates. Nearly two in five graduates this year (38.1%) say they plan to enter a loan-forgiveness program.

Fewer than 2 percent of 2013 graduates say they plan to go into full-time solo practice. Twenty percent have their sights set on a group practice of three or more. Nine percent expect to pursue hospital work.

“Students see solo practice as the one place they won’t be able to control their hours,” Henry Sondheimer, MD, AAMC’s senior director of medical education projects, told the AAMC Reporter. “People want to work hard and know that when they’re off, they’re off. They want to know that their malpractice insurance is going to be paid and that they’re not going to have to go out and buy electronic health records. If you’re with a big group, it’s all going to be there.”

The Medical School Graduation Questionnaire was established in 1978 as a method for the AAMC, medical schools, and other organizations to identify and address issues critical to the future of medical education and the well‐being of medical students.

These issues include: students’ satisfaction with their educational programs’ ability to prepare them for residency; students’ career and specialty plans; the costs of medical education; and students’ experiences of mistreatment in the learning environment. Since its inception, the questionnaire has been used by medical schools, faculty, students, researchers, and the Liaison Committee on Medical Education for benchmarking and improving medical education.

Read the 2013 Medical School Graduation Questionnaire All Schools Summary Report.
Read coverage of it in the AAMC Reporter

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Human Capital Blog. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors.