When he graduates from medical school next year, Chisti, 27, will pursue a career as an internist and a population health specialist providing care in underserved and rural areas like Bandon. Eventually he hopes to serve on the faculty of OHSU while maintaining an active practice.
Chisti's story is impressive and even inspiring. It is also plainly illustrates the sacrifices that young physicians are forced to make if they want to provide primary care in rural America.
For starters, Chisti is not wealthy. He had to work summers as a caddie and find other odd jobs to help pay for his education. He will graduate from medical school with more than $150,000 in student loan obligations. And he is planning to enter a medical field that will pay significantly less than he could otherwise earn.
Physician recruiter Merritt Hawkins says that the starting salary for a neurosurgeon in coastal Oregon is about $450,000 while an internist can expect to earn about $190,000 or "probably less if they are practicing at a community health center."
Chisti is a notable exception, but it is not realistic to expect too many young physicians already mired in debt to take up a career path that offers long, uneven hours and a huge pay cut.