The attitudes of medical students toward the current United States healthcare system are not well described in the literature. A graded survey was developed to assess awareness and motivation toward the care of the uninsured and underinsured as well as the impact of a video intervention on these attitudes. The survey, which showed good internal consistency (Cronbach's alpha = 0.85), was administered before and after viewing a collection of videotaped patient stories. Although a spectrum of beliefs emerged from the analysis of survey responses, some common attitudes were identified. Eighty-five percent of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that medical care should be provided to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay. In addition, 66% indicated they would be willing to forgo a portion of their income to provide care to those who do not have access to healthcare services. These values were strongly correlated with increasing respondent age and primary care specialty choice (p<0.01). The video intervention did not heavily influence student responses, perhaps due to a ceiling effect created by the large number of students who were already sympathetic toward the underserved. Overall, this data reflects that United States medical students recognize a need to provide care to the underserved and are willing to make personal sacrifices to meet that need.
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