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Majority of Doctors Struggling to Repay Student Loan Debts

Medical graduates often constitute the major chunk of students who graduate with high levels of student debts and the majority of doctors are struggling to repay their student loans.

A new study conducted by Weatherby Healthcare found nearly 65 percent of medical doctors owing a student loan debt from their schooling.

Titled Medical School Debt Report 2019, the study surveyed more than 500 actively practicing physicians across the country and reported the majority of doctors owing loans in six figures.

About 32 percent of doctors reported owing more than $250,000 in student loans, while another 33 percent has between 151k to 250k dollars in remaining debt.

“Medical school student loans are extensive, long-lasting and compounded when physicians strive to find a work-life balance,” the report says.

“Although many doctors have paid off their debt through up-front planning, strict budgeting and utilizing military incentives, the majority continue to struggle with debt that they do not expect to repay for a decade or more.”

Nearly 60 percent of the respondents expect it to take more than six years to pay off their loans, a number that closely corresponds with the highest levels of debts.

In reality, nearly 50 percent of doctors paid off their medical school loans within two years after graduation and over one-quarter in three-to-five years. Most of them used several strategies in the process which includes management of finances and finding additional work through locum tenens, extra shifts, federal loan consolidation, income-driven plans among others.

A recent report by Study Loan Hero found medical schools students borrowing high levels of student loan debt in comparison to their undergraduate peers in other schools. University of Tennessee Health Science Center ranks top with its students graduating with an average federal loan debt of $25,373 followed by Medical University of South Carolina.

Earlier in July, California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) allocated $58.6 million for its CalHealthCares loan repayment program to erase the student loan debts of 247 physicians. Under the program, the state will pay up to $300,000 in debt relief in exchange for physicians meeting certain criteria, which includes maintaining a patient caseload of 30 percent or more of Medi-Cal beneficiaries.

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