The study, which will appear in tomorrow's Journal of the American Medical Association, tracked more than 84,000 students at U.S. medical schools from 1994 to 1999. Eleven percent of those students either left without finishing or finished without passing key licensing exams. Women, who made up 44 percent of the sample, were less likely to fail or quit.
Debt over $50,000 was shown to be a factor in students failing to graduate successfully, as was being older than 24 when a student entered school. Researchers figured that being older meant a student had more family or financial responsibilities than younger students.
According to the Wash U release about the study, the researchers will take this information and look at how a growing and all-too-familiar problem -- crushing student debt, beginning at the earliest levels of higher education -- contributes to shortages in qualified medical professionals.