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ACP Tells Congress that the Burden of Medical Student Loan Debt Prevents Careers in Primary Care

Washington, DC (June 12, 2019) – Rising medical student loan debt can impact primary care specialization and private practice decisions, the American College of Physicians (ACP) told Congress today. ACP member Tracey Henry, MD, MPH, MS, FACP, a practicing primary care physician and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine, testified about the issue in front of the U.S. House of Representatives Small Business Committee this morning.

“As much as I love working, giving back to my community through medicine, community service, and training our next generation of doctors; the burden of my student loan debt weighs on me heavily,” said Dr. Henry. “Sometimes my medical residents who really enjoy primary care struggle with the decision to choose it as a career. I advise them to go with their heart and do what they enjoy, but I do so knowing that this is an issue I have not been able to solve for myself.”

ACP has a long-standing commitment to addressing rising medical student debt. In her testimony, Dr. Henry shared her personal story of how medical student loan debt has influenced her choice of specialty and practice setting. She also expressed her fear that her student loan debt may prevent her from working in her current setting, treating underserved patients.

On behalf of ACP, Dr. Henry also expressed support for the What You Can Do for Your Country Act, which would increase access to loan forgiveness for individuals who pursue careers in government service or in non-profit organizations, as well as advocated for increased funding for scholarships and loan repayment programs for primary care physicians through the National Health Service Corps and maintaining the loan programs under Title VII.

“The road remains difficult for general internal medicine specialists and other primary care physicians to pay off their medical student loan debt,” said Dr. Henry. “However, I am hopeful that there are several steps that Congress can take to reduce student loan debt, and in turn, to encourage medical students to pursue careers in primary care.”

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About the American College of Physicians
The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization in the United States with members in more than 145 countries worldwide. ACP membership includes 154,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness. Follow ACP on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Contact: Julie Hirschhorn, (202) 261-4523, jhirschhorn@acponline.org