Physician debt should be considered among diversity efforts, study suggests

Black medical residents are much more likely to have any type of debt than other racial and ethnic groups, according to a new report from Health Affairs.

Researchers used data on postgraduate resident trainees from the Association of American Medical Colleges from 2014 to 2019 to examine the link between race and ethnicity and debt, independent of other factors. 

They found 96 percent of Black residents had any debt versus 83 percent of other racial and ethnic groups overall. Black residents (60 percent) were more likely to have premedical education loans compared to other groups overall (35 percent). Finally, half of Black trainees had consumer debt, relative to 25 percent overall. 

Overall, debt fell overtime and varied by specialty. For Black residents, however, debt fell more slightly, with no significant differences across specialties. The findings indicate scholarships, debt relief and financial guidance should be a part of efforts to improve diversity and inclusion in the physician workforce, researchers said. 

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