Medical Student Debt Reform: a Proposed Value-Based Loan Repayment Policy

Julia Driessen, Caitlin Zaloom, William H. Shrank

    Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review


    The call for value-based medicine has augmented the role of primary care physicians, potentially exacerbating the already-acknowledged shortage of primary care physicians in the current delivery landscape. Lifetime earnings for primary care physicians are millions lower than those for other specialties, and the burden of medical school debt is increasing at a rate that outpaces inflation. Given the societal value of primary care entry for newly minted physicians, one option is a loan repayment program that shares some of that societal value with the physicians themselves, essentially a subsidy that is continuous and tied to present-day specialty choice. While income-based options exist currently, these are merely a proxy for specialty, and other service-driven options are finite and may impose undue burden on physicians at an early and pressure-laden time in their careers. Value-based repayment reflects the graduate’s benefit from physician training while also rewarding the real-time societal value of specialties such as primary care, allowing doctors to put their talents to their best uses while advancing the transformation of the physician workforce necessary to realize value-based, patient-centered, population-oriented care.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1576-1578
    Number of pages3
    JournalJournal of general internal medicine
    Issue number5
    StatePublished - May 1 2020

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Internal Medicine


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