Member Gives Congressional Testimony on Student Loan Debt Issue

Dr. Lauren Wiese represented the AAO at a U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Small Business hearing titled, “The Doctor is Out. Rising Student Loan Debt and the Decline of the Small Medical Practice.”

The purpose of the Small Business Committee hearing was to inform its members about the causes of rapid growth in student loan debt and especially about high debt levels among young health professionals. The discussion also addressed how debt impacts specialization and other career decisions such as entering private practice.

Dr. Wiese is concluding her third year of orthodontic residency at the University of Maryland in Baltimore. She explained to the committee that after taking out loans for dental school, she continued accumulating student debt during her residency:

“Dental residencies are unlike medical residencies in that the majority of dental residencies are tuition-based,” said Dr. Wiese. “During my three-year orthodontic residency, my first-year tuition and fees were approximately $35,000 during each of the two semesters (out-of-state tuition) and approximately $25,000 for each semester for the second and third years (in-state tuition); in other words, about $70,000 the first year and $50,000 for each of the last two years of residency.”

Dr. Wiese had hoped to own her own practice, possibly in a semi-remote area, and serve the local community along with building her practice. She outlined the difficult choices that she and her husband, who was recently accepted to both dental and medical schools, face with regard to her choice of employment as her residency draws to a close.

“While I would love to pursue my initial goal of owning a business by buying into an existing practice, purchasing a practice, or starting my own practice; the thought of taking out a large business loan in light of my own student loan debt — in addition to that which my husband may take on in the coming years — is paralyzing for us,” said Dr. Wiese.

View Dr. Wiese’s Written Testimony Submitted to the Committee 
View a Video of the Complete Hearing
View a Post-Hearing Press Release Video
Learn More about AAO Political Outreach on Student Debt