The top issues residents will face in 2015
It’s been many years since I was a medical resident, but as an educator, I have the opportunity to see residents from the other side. In the new year, three issues will rise to the top of residents’ minds.
Medical school debt
The most recent data from the Association of American Medical Colleges shows that medical school graduates this year face an average education debt of more than $176,000, and 40 percent are planning to enter a loan forgiveness or repayment program. Most residents spend at least a decade of their post-residency years—if not more—repaying their educational debt.
This debt load is oppressive. The AMA continues to press legislatively to lower this burden. In addition, AMA Wire® offers informative articles with practical pointers for managing debt. I also advise my residents to keep their debt in perspective. There aren’t many people who go into any profession without any debt. We aren’t the only ones with these burdens.
Future practice environment
There was a time when a resident’s decision about where to practice was all about geography—but that’s changed dramatically. Today, there are so many ways that health care is delivered, and doors are open that didn’t even exist before. I always recommend seeing change as opportunity.
Residents can use resources from the AMA to explore the broader world of health care. I encourage my residents to take advantage of any opportunities to learn about different health delivery systems. Decisions about future practice also can consider underserved areas and the existing health care workforce in specific areas. Our new Health Workforce Mapper makes doing so simple.
Finally, an important issue for residents—and really, for all physicians—heading into the new year is that of physician wellness. This topic is especially close to me, as I serve as chair of the World Medical Association (WMA) committee that is focusing on the well-being of doctors. In fact, a group of “junior doctors” (the WMA’s equivalent to residents) were the catalysts for creating this physician wellness committee at the WMA.
Those junior doctors cited many good examples of how important wellness is to residents. This is a time in which you’ll be working and learning more than ever, honing your clinical skills. When you finish, you’ll be focused on how to give the best possible care to your patients. Be sure to make it a priority to take the best possible care of yourself, too. It’s a good habit to start in residency.