Huge debts weighing down med students - study

  • 16/06/2017
Doctor hospital
On average, 93 percent reported having some student loan debt. Photo credit: iStock

Medical student debt is growing and the full impact on the health system will take years to determine, Auckland University researchers say.

However, the effect could be negative if graduates choose to enter careers that are more highly paid over areas of high need.

The researchers found that more than a quarter of medical students have a student loan debt of more than $90,000 by the end of their degree.

The results, published in the NZ Medical Journal, came from interviews with 1170 domestic students who graduated at Auckland University from 2006 to 2015.

They show the proportion with high debt grew every year, with older students more likely to have higher debt.

On average, 93 percent reported having some student loan debt, with 27 percent having a debt of $90,000 or more.

The authors say the level of debt that medical students are carrying is growing year on year.

"The effect of this on individual doctors and the New Zealand health system is uncertain," they said.

"But it has the potential to be negative if it forces graduates into higher paid careers away from areas of need, or impacts on the way individuals live or conduct their practice."