Trends associated with debt loads among oral and maxillofacial surgery chief residents.


Professor and Chair Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX, USA. Electronic address: [Email]


OBJECTIVE : This survey-based study was undertaken to investigate how total debt loads are impacting the personal and professional decisions made by graduating oral and maxillofacial surgery (OMS) residents. The aim of this study was to evaluate differences in total debt load on graduating residents and analyze the effects of this debt on career, family, and lifestyle choices after graduation.
METHODS : This study was a cross-sectional, web-based survey of all graduating OMS residents in accredited OMS residency programs in the United States. Participation in the survey was optional, and all responses were anonymously collected and the data analyzed by using Qualtrics software. The respondents were analyzed as a collective, with the predictor of the study being program training length and the outcome being total debt load, with independent analysis of select other financial variables.
RESULTS : For the 246 deliverable emails, there were 120 respondents (48.7% response rate). The average graduating OMS resident was a Caucasian male (median age 32 years), living with a significant other or spouse who independently earned money, and had no dependents. The average range of accumulated debt of graduating residents was between $300,000 and $350,000, with 50.83% of the respondents having $350,000 or less in overall debt and 49.17% of the respondents having $350,000 or greater in accumulated debt. For those respondents completing 4-year programs, the average range of accumulated debt was between $250,000 and $300,000, and for those respondents completing 6-year programs, the average range of accumulated debt was between $400,000 and $450,000 (P < .08).
CONCLUSIONS : Graduating OMS residents carry with them a significant amount of debt whether graduating from a 4-year program or a 6-year program. However, when subjectively queried, most of these residents stated they would again choose OMS as a career choice.