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Am J Surg. 2000 Dec;180(6):570-5; discussion 575-6.

Debt and other influences on career choices among surgical and primary care residents in a community-based hospital system.

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Department of Surgery, University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita, Wichita, Kansas 67214, USA.



To evaluate debt and other factors that help formulate the career paths of future surgical and primary care physicians, a survey was undertaken.


Surgical specialty (SS) and primary care (PC) residents were surveyed regarding demographics, factors influencing choice of specialty, methods of financing education, debt characteristics, and outlooks regarding future earnings and practice characteristics.


The clinical years of medical school and personalities of specialists and residents were important factors in career choices for both PC and SS. The length of residency, desirable lifestyle, and working hours were all more important to PC residents. Surgeons found intellectual challenge and procedure-based practice of greater importance. Although not highly regarded by either group, scholarship obligation and student loans had a significantly greater impact on specialty choice and practice plans for PC residents. At the completion of training, 55% of SS and 28% of PC residents anticipate owing more than $100,000. Debt was especially significant in specialty choice and practice plans for PC residents with debt over $100,000.


Surgical residents are less concerned about personal sacrifices in their quest to become surgeons. It appears state funded scholarships are successful in attracting students to primary care. Both SS and PC residents have significant debt, although, SS residents have greater financial debt than primary care residents. However, the anticipation of indebtedness was a more significant factor in determination of career path for PC.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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