Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Student debt causing doctor shortage?

The National Post recently ran the article Student debt dictates who enters medical field” which paints a shockingly honest picture of the societal dangers of high-cost post-secondary education programs like medicine.

There is a significant body of research that points to the fact that rising tuition fees are a barrier to participation in post-secondary education. Especially problematic are the once-deregulated fees paid by students in professional programmes, (though this is not to downplay the fact that other students, like international students, are also treated like cash cows via enormous tuition fees[1] [2] or provincial health fees).

Generally, the justification for high tuition fees is that students will make their money back in reams throughout their working careers (false). Applying this logic to the field of medicine however, pushes graduates who are keen to pay off their massive student debts, to choose jobs and work locations based on pay alone.

Medical graduates are not choosing to be family practitioners despite the growing need. They are leaving rural areas and even the country for work rather than providing their much-needed service in smaller towns. To some, this is an outrage—young professional medics who have milked society for its tax dollars to get them through school and then abandoning it for more money in other jurisdictions. But the sad reality is that it was their society, influenced by the baby-boomer generation and out-of-touch politicians who chose funding continuous tax cuts with unsustainable tuition fee increases. Not to mention that this will further the cycle where only the sons daughters of doctors go on to become doctors and lawyers themselves, thereby narrowing the accessibility of the field medicine.

Until Canadian society comes to grips with the fact that funding tuition fee reductions is an important tool in strengthening society, medical professionals will continue to disappear out of desperation to live a life unsaddled by debt.

Other Links$File/add_janfeb06.pdf

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