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Study asks if patients are paying the price for med schools

By KJ Mullins     May 25, 2010 in Health
The high cost of Canadian medical school may have a negative effect on the health of Canadians according to a study conducted by The Canadian Federation of Medical Students.
In Canada most new doctors come from wealthy families, with little diversity or rural area med students being represented. Tuition fees at many of Canadian medical schools have risen close to $20,000 a year in every province except for Quebec where fees are typically under $4,000 a year says Dr. Merani. Students in Quebec were more likely to come from low-income families and graduate with less debt. Outside of Quebec the average medical student has a debt load of $90,000 by graduation.
Dr. Merani stated in a press release, "This provided a natural opportunity to examine the effect of tuition fee increases on medical student demographics, indebtedness and financial stress."
The research for the study was lead by medical student Dr. Shaheed Merani of the University of Alberta with support from faculty members of St. Michael's Hospital and the University of Toronto.
"Medical student diversity is very important for health human resources planning and for the Canadian health care system in general" explained Dr. Tyler Johnston, president of the Canadian Federation of Medical Students (CFMS). "Increasing medical student diversity may actually increase physician accessibility in underserviced areas. We know that medical students from rural areas are more likely to practice in rural communities and medical students from low-income families are more likely to serve low-income patients. These are areas where we need physicians."
Johnson said that the high debt load makes it less likely that students will go into research careers or practice in family medicine or geriatrics.
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