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Medical education: the adverse effects of student debt

Kieran Walsh.

Medical education is expensive. In a growing number of countries the burden of funding medical education is slowly being
transferred to the learner. In most contexts the learner is provided with a loan with which to pay fees and live. However
this in turn results in a growing burden of student debt. This debt causes stress to students and the effects of this stress
may be broadly categorised as “flight” or “fight” responses amongst learners. Flight responses include mental health
problems, depression, physical health problems and problems with relationships at home and in the place of work or
learning. The “fight” response means that students will take on the challenge of their financial debts and seek to pay them
back and ensure maximum returns on their investment in medical education. The only way to achieve this is to obtain a
high paying job in a high paying specialty. However this will result in more graduates choosing careers in specialties that
do not always meet population needs.

Key words: Cost; Medical education; Debt

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