Medical Student Debt In Head-On Collision
Medical Student Debt In Head-On Collision With Health Workforce
Research published in the New Zealand Medical Journal today signals that staggering levels of medical student debt are set to play a big part in health workforce shortages in coming years.
“The NZMSA is particularly concerned that the level of debt among graduating medical students is so high, and that so many junior doctors are adamant they will not stay and practice in New Zealand”, said Richard Pole, President of the New Zealand Medical Students’ Association.
Research conducted by medical students at both Christchurch and Auckland Medical Schools reveals debt levels to be $70,000 on average. Eighty percent of graduating students predict they will leave New Zealand within 2 years. Maori and Pacific Island students have more debt than other ethnic groups.
Medical students also signaled that the better-paid medical careers (such as surgery), are far more popular than the real areas of need: psychiatry, public health, and urban and rural general practice. At the Christchurch School of Medicine, more students preferred a career outside of medicine than a career in public health, psychiatry or pathology. The reasons why New Zealand students are not interested in the most understaffed areas of medicine must be considered, including the impact of debt, level of remuneration and attractiveness of training schemes.
“These statistics are alarming”, said Richard Pole. “We are looking at current shortages in many key areas getting even worse in the very near future”.
The NZMSA called on the government to offer tax incentives and student loan discounts to loyal graduates staying and working in the New Zealand Health system.
President, New Zealand Medical Students’ Assn.
Phone (025) 623 4890