Some newly-qualified doctors are starting their medical careers with debts of more than £45,000, according to new research.
Student medics face major debt on graduating
A report from the University of Wales College of Medicine's Student Union says rising costs could put off NHS recruits.
The survey questioned more than half of the students at the college, including those studying medicine, dentistry and physiotherapy.
It found that all students left owing at least £4,000.
Of those surveyed, 5% said they owed more than £45,000 pounds.
The average debt was just over £17,500, while the average graduate medic starting salary is £27,000.
Medical students study for five years and have shorter holidays than other undergraduates.
The report's authors say that means they are less able to take on summer jobs to repay their debt which they describe as a "significant and serious problem".
They are calling for joint action by the union and the medical college.
The survey questioned 1,779 of the 3,500 students at the college.
They included medical and dentistry students, nursing, physiotherapy and occupational therapy students.
The report said: "The results of this survey are concerning even without relating them to the current situation the NHS is facing.
"Staff shortages and problems with staff retention in the healthcare professions make these results even more significant.
"Graduating students from UWCM may be attracted by careers with less antisocial hours, less emotional stresses and better rates of pay, stripping the NHS of much-needed staff."