Medical Student Debt

Physician supply is currently a direct result of the number of medical school graduates, but more graduates do not assure an increased supply of primary care physicians. The 2018 National Resident Match Program (NRMP) showed the highest number of Family Medicine matches ever. However, just 12% of allopathic and osteopathic seniors combined choose Family Medicine. 

A lack of interest in primary care fields can be attributed to various social and cultural factors; however, the biggest deterrent for medical students tends to be mere economics. The average Michigan medical student graduates with a debt of around $190,000, which is just shy of the median salary of a primary care physician and causes many medical students to pass over primary care in favor of more lucrative specialties.


Michigan State Loan Repayment Program

Loan forgiveness programs greatly help medical students choose primary care specialties like Family Medicine. The Michigan State Loan Repayment Program (MSLRP) provides loan forgiveness and scholarship opportunities to eligible primary care providers who agree to practice in a designated health professional shortage area for a specified period of time. The program assists employers with recruitment and retention of providers at practice sites with any Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) score, and employers are required to make a 50% contribution to their providers' loan repayment contracts. The MSLRP has successfully placed hundreds of providers in underserved areas, many of which are Family Physicians.

MSLRP receives funding from federal (through the National Health Service Corps), state and local/private sources; however, the mix depends on the year and the budget environment.   


National Health Service Corps

The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) is a federal program operated by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). It primarily provides financial assistance—through loan forgiveness and scholarships—to primary care providers who agree to practice in a designated health professional shortage area for two years. The program assists employers with recruitment and retention of providers at practice sites with higher Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) scores. In Michigan, NHSC operates in collaboration with MSLRP.


Additional Resources

  • Medical Opportunities in Michigan
    Medical Opportunities in Michigan (MOM) allows students and providers to search for job opportunities and identifies those eligible for loan repayment.
  • Michigan Rural Recruitment and Retention Network
    The Michigan Rural Recruitment and Retention Network (3RNet) allows students and providers to search for job opportunities at rural practice sites eligible for loan repayment.
  • J1-Waiver Program
    Annually, the J1-Waiver Program allows 30 foreign medical graduates to remain in Michigan to practice instead of returning to their home countries for a minimum of two years. Preference is given to those applying to work in underserved areas.
  • The AAFP on Medical Student Debt