Off to work I owe! Medical Students’ and Residents’ Education-related debt.

Off to work I owe! Medical Students’ and Residents’ Education-related debt.

Canadian Medical Association, March, 2013.

“As part of the 2012 National Physician Survey, medical students and residents were asked several questions about the education-related debt they have or will acquire by the end of their medical education. ”

Off to work I owe! Medical Students’ and Residents’ Education-related debt. (C3PR, March, 2013, PDF)

Additional information:


NPS 2012 for medical students and residents data release


The 2012 National Physician Survey for medical students and residents was made available electronically to all medical students and residents in Canada.  Over 2,000 medical students and over 1,600 residents responded to the survey, addressing the future Canadian physicians’ experience in their medical education and plans for future practice. Below is a high-level summary of the survey findings.

Click here to access the 2012 Results.

  • 50% of family medicine residents and 74% of residents in other specialties report being stressed about their future employment.
    • Less than half (47%) of all residents are satisfied with the career counselling provided as part of their training.
    • 40% of residents report that no formal career counselling is available. Informal counselling (one-on-one meetings, hallway conversations) is much more widespread.
    • 21% of medical students report future employment as a source of stress and 35% find residency selection somewhat or very stressful.
  • General satisfaction with medical education remains high – 85% of all residents and 88% of all medical students report being satisfied with their experience overall.
  • Majority of residents (59%) indicate reasonable work hours as their most important factor for maintaining personal/professional life balance.
    • Ability to work flexible hours (mentioned by 14% as most important factor) and ability to take time off of practice (10%) are also notable factors for achieving this balance.
  • Ability to practice in a geographic region of choice is the most important attribute of the future practice environment mentioned by residents. 39% selected it as the most important attribute.
    • There was a slight increase in family medicine residents planning to work in rural areas. 17% indicated their practice will serve rural/remote populations, vs. 14% in 2010 and 11% in 2004.
  • Medical students are experiencing rising education debt levels – in 2004 only 1% estimated $160,000 or more in debt by graduation – the percentage grew to 13% in 2012.
    • Residents’ debt levels are also on the rise – the percentage of 2nd year residents estimating their education-related debt will exceed $160,000 by end of training doubled from 9% in 2007 to 20% in 2012. [Note: only second year residents were surveyed in 2007 but all in were in 2012]
    • Level of satisfaction with financial assistance is improving – 28% of residents and 58% of medical students are satisfied with available financial assistance (increasing from the 2010 levels of 19% and 53%).
  • 87% of medical residents have been exposed to electronic records as part of their training and 85% expect to be using these in practice.

The National Physician Survey is Canada’s most comprehensive and authoritative survey of current and future physicians. It is carried out jointly by the College of Family Physicians of Canada, the Canadian Medical Association and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. Upcoming 2013 National Physician Survey will be available to all licensed Canadian physicians later this spring.

For more information visit or contact us at

To receive regular updates on the National Physician Survey sign up to the NPS Mailing List or follow us on Twitter @npscanada.

Click here to download a PDF of the NPS 2012 data release.

Winners of the 2012 Student & Resident NPS Prize Draws!

Resident winner: Rachel Markin, University of Toronto

Student winner: David Plemel, University of Saskatchewan

Medical schools with the highest response rates:

Resident participation: University of Saskatchewan

Student participation: McGill University

All respondents to the 2012 Student/Resident National Physician Survey were eligible to win one of two $1,000 cash prizes.  In addition, the medical schools with the highest response rates from students and residents were also eligible to winner prizes of $1,000 each. The draws were made on January 21, 2013.

The leaders of the NPS project partners, the Canadian Medical Association, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, and the College of Family Physicians of Canada, had the pleasure of notifying the winners immediately following the draw.  Congratulations to the winners, and thank you to everyone who supported the NPS by providing your important input.

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