Medical Student Debt Case Book

On March 31 the New Zealand Medical Association, in conjunction with the New Zealand Medical Students’ Association, the New Zealand University Students’ Association realeased a publication entitled “Doctors and Debt: The Effect of Student Debt on Doctors“. It was a cohort study of first year house officers (interns) in New Zealand, and outlined the impact that high university fees and correspondingly high student loans have had on the members of the cohort, both individually and on a statistical level within the entire cohort.

For New Zealand Students (medical or otherwise) it serves as a depressingly predictable validation of the claims that have been made since the begining of the student loan scheme about the detrimental effects of such debt on young graduates, and the subsequently the economy and infrastructure of the country as a whole.

For my australian readers it’s worth a read, as it is a stern warning of the effects of allowing such policies to be implemented, because while Australia is currently benefiting from the immigration of NZ doctors into higher paying locum positions within Australia, the current push by the federal government to allow full fee paying medical school positions, to increase the fees attached to government subsidised HECS medical school places, and the failure of certain states to maintain competitive (ie market driven and realistic) award pay rates for junior doctors could combine quite rapidly to leave Australia in the same medical staffing crisis that New Zealand is increasingly experiencing.