OBJECTIVE: To examine current levels of educational debt among pediatric residents and the relationship between educational debt and career intentions.
METHODS: Annual national random samples of 1000 graduating pediatric residents from 2006 through 2010 were surveyed. Responses were combined. We used t tests and 1-way analysis of variance to compare debt, linear regression to examine factors associated with educational debt, and logistic regression to assess the influence of debt on clinical practice goal. Response rate was 61%.
RESULTS: Three in 4 residents reported having educational debt. The mean debt (in 2010 dollars) among all residents, which included spouse’s debt if married, increased 34% from $104 000 in 2006 to $139 000 in 2010. Among the subgroup who reported having any debt, the mean debt increased 24% from $146 000 in 2006 to $181 000 in 2010. Residents had varied clinical practice goals; 43% had goals that required fellowship training (subspecialty and combined primary-subspecialty) and 57% had goals not typically requiring fellowship training (primary care and hospitalist). In multivariate analyses, debt level (low, medium, high) remained an independent predictor of practice goal. Residents with medium debt (adjusted odds ratio: 1.46, 95% confidence interval: 1.16–1.84) and high debt (adjusted odds ratio: 1.51; 95% confidence interval: 1.20–1.90) had higher odds than residents with low debt of having a practice goal that does not typically require fellowship training. Other factors also had an independent association with career choice.
CONCLUSIONS: Multiple factors shape decisions about careers. Higher educational debt is one factor that may push residents toward primary care or hospitalist practice, rather than pursuing fellowship training.
- AAP —
- American Academy of Pediatrics
- aOR —
- adjusted odds ratio
- CI —
- confidence interval
- Accepted October 1, 2012.
- Copyright © 2013 by the American Academy of Pediatrics