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March 2018

The Hidden Costs of Medical Education and the Impact on Oncology Workforce Diversity

Author Affiliations
  • 1Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
  • 2Wake Forest Baptist Health, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
JAMA Oncol. 2018;4(3):289-290. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2017.4533

It’s that time of year when millions of fresh-faced students embark upon the journey toward higher education; young adults—full of ideas, ideals, and aspirations—pursuing the American dream. Some start this path open to career exploration, and others have their eyes firmly fixed on a specific goal. A stalwart few will try their hand at some iteration of premedical education, headed toward a career that in the not-so-distant past was both personally gratifying and financially lucrative. The landscape of medicine today, particularly in oncology, has a much different visage than the days of yore. The staggering burden of US physician debt, combined with the demands of our proliferating cancer patient census, documentation requirements, and regulatory hurdles, are leading to staggering rates of depersonalization and emotional exhaustion among oncologists.1 These stressors, magnified by a broken health care system that has become a political football, can leave many oncologists lamenting the gradual transformation of a noble career into one fraught with uncertainty, bureaucratic checkboxes, and diminished checking accounts.

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