Student Pharmacists’ Personal Finance Perceptions, Projected Indebtedness Upon Graduation, and Career Decision-Making

Document Type


Publication Date



Objective. To evaluate the extent to which Doctor of Pharmacy students’ personal finance perceptions, projected student loan indebtedness, and demographic characteristics predict postgraduation career intentions. Methods. Students at three pharmacy colleges completed a 31-item survey instrument that assessed personal finance perceptions, self-efficacy beliefs, anticipated student loan debt upon graduation, postgraduate intentions, anticipated practice setting upon graduation, and demographic characteristics. Logistic regression models were used to examine the extent to which personal finance perceptions, student loan indebtedness, and demographic characteristics predicted postgraduate intentions and anticipated practice setting. Results. There were 763 usable responses obtained (response rate=90.3%). Students reported an anticipated personal student loan debt at graduation of $162,747 (SD=$87,093) and an estimated 7.4 (SD=5.8) years to pay off non-mortgage debt postgraduation. Fifty-three percent of students reported planning to practice in a community pharmacy setting postgraduation, and 54% indicated they intended to enter practice directly. Student loan indebtedness was not a significant predictor of whether students planned to pursue postgraduate training. There was a significant association between debt influence and pressure perceptions and students’ plans to pursue postgraduate training (aOR=0.78; 95% CI=0.65-0.94). The odds of indicating hospital (vs chain community) pharmacy as the anticipated setting decreased 36% with every one point increase in debt influence and pressure perceptions (aOR=0.64; 95% CI=0.50-0.81). Conclusion. Pharmacy students’ perceived debt pressure and influence predicted their intention to enter practice directly (vs pursuing postgraduate training) and to select a career in chain community pharmacy (vs hospital pharmacy). Student loan indebtedness was not a significant predictor of postgraduate training intentions. These findings suggest that interventions that equip students to manage the pressure associated with large student loan debts should be explored.