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U.S. Medical Students Willing to Contribute to Health Care for All

Even after the improvements in coverage due to the Affordable Care Act, over 23 million in the United States will likely remain uninsured, and tens of thousands may die needlessly. A recent survey of U.S. medical students, published in PLoS, published last month, suggests the coming generation of physicians believes in health care for all, and is willing to do their part to achieve this goal. The survey, which included nearly 900 medical students at ten U.S. medical schools, reported that over 86% of medical students agreed or strongly agreed that healthcare should be provided to all regardless of ability to pay. Two thirds (66%) of students indicated they were willing to sacrifice future time and money to provide that care, and nearly three quarters (72%) indicated a preference for a publicly-funded healthcare system.

In a departure from previous studies that have shown a decline in student empathy over the four years of medical school training, these survey also found that this willingness to sacrifice in order provide care increased with increasing student age and years in medical school, and was also correlated with choosing a primary care career focus.

There was no consensus about whether "a publicly-funded national health program would solve the United States health care problems," (approximately 1/3 agree, 1/3 neutral, 1/3 disagree), while only 19% supported private health insurance (19% vs 35% neutral, 46% against).

These results point out an encouraging trend among future students, and the authors suggest a need for increased training in social medicine at medical schools to promote underserved care.

Read the entire survey here.

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