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JOURNAL ARTICLE

A Study of Pediatricians' Debt Repayment a Decade After Completing Residency

William L Cull, Shesha K Katakam, Amy Jost Starmer, Elizabeth A Gottschlich, Ashley A Miller, Mary Pat Frintner
Academic Medicine: Journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges 2017, 92 (11): 1595-1600
28445218

PURPOSE: Pediatricians' education debt has been increasing. Less is known about the pace of their debt repayment. The authors examined patterns of debt repayment for pediatricians who completed residency from 2002-2004.

METHOD: The authors analyzed weighted 2013 survey data from the American Academy of Pediatrics Pediatrician Life and Career Experience Study. They categorized participants based on education debt level at residency completion ($0; $1-$49,999; $50,000-$99,999; $100,000-$149,999; ≥ $150,000) and explored debt repayment and well-being by starting debt group using multivariable logistic regression.

RESULTS: Of 830 pediatricians surveyed, 266 (32%) had no starting debt and 166 (20%) had ≥ $150,000 in starting debt. A decade after residency, the percentage of participants who completely repaid their debt varied from 76% (68/89) of those with $1-$49,999 of starting debt to 15% (25/164) of those with ≥ $150,000 of starting debt. The percentage of participants concerned about their debt increased with starting debt level, with over half of those in the highest group concerned. Starting debt was associated with all examined measures of debt repayment and with recent financial difficulties among those in the two highest debt groups ($100,000-$149,999: adjusted odds ratio = 3.82, confidence interval = 1.17-12.43; ≥ $150,000: adjusted odds ratio = 4.55, confidence interval = 1.47-14.14).

CONCLUSIONS: A decade after completing residency, pediatricians had made progress repaying their debt, yet many still expressed concern, especially those with the greatest amount of starting debt. As debt levels continue to increase, these issues could worsen.

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