Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
First Advisor's Name
First Advisor's Committee Title
Second Advisor's Name
Second Advisor's Committee Title
Third Advisor's Name
Third Advisor's Committee Title
Fourth Advisor's Name
Fourth Advisor's Committee Title
student loan debt, medical students, higher education, debt
Date of Defense
Today, 43.4 million Americans owe 1.7 trillion dollars in student loan debt (Hanson, 2022). The American Association of Medical Colleges (2021) reported that 73% of medical students graduate with educational debt, of which the average medical student borrowed $203,062 in student loans. The problem addressed through this study is that as the narrative about student loan debt grows, the hegemonic understanding of debt revolves around the undergraduate student's experience and their eminent struggles regarding repayment of student loans and employment. However, limited research exists on how medical students understand and experience debt.
Several researchers have discussed the lack of understanding about medical students and debt. For instance, Kahn et al. (2006) suggested that medical students make major life choices based on several complex factors, but further research is needed. Rohlfing et al. (2014) discussed the necessity of a study specifically looking at the impact of the cost of attendance on medical student debt and major life choices. Young et al. (2016) echoed for further research on understanding the complex ways and multiple dimensions in which in medical students and residents understand debt.
This qualitative study aimed to expand on how medical students experience and make meaning of debt. Two semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 medical students during their final year of medical school. The following question guided this study: How do graduating medical students at Florida International University experience and understand debt? Three super-ordinate themes and 10 sub-themes were developed from participants’ interview transcripts utilizing an interpretative phenomenological analysis. The super-ordinate themes are: a) Debt (Re)Articulated, b) Emotions and Approaches to Debt, and c) The Temporality of Debt.
The study’s key findings revealed that participants’ articulations vary from the commonsensical understandings of debt as financial to non-financial obligations to family, institution, and God. Participants felt burdened and frustrated by the cost of obtaining a medical degree while also accepting their student loan debt as an investment that can be managed and paid off in the future. Participants expressed the influence of their student loan debt in their daily decisions and the expected influence it will have in delaying major life decisions and the foreclosing of opportunities in the future. The implications of this study call for reform in federal loan and medical education policies and action by medical colleges to reduce the debt burden placed on medical students.
Diaz, Alberto Juan Jr, "Means to an End: A Qualitative Interview Study on Medical Students and Debt" (2022). FIU Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 5030.
In Copyright. URI: http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/InC/1.0/
This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).