Published: Sat, August 18, 2018
Medicine | By Daryl Nelson

This is why medical school is free at NYU

This is why medical school is free at NYU

New York University has a plan to encourage more medical students to pursue careers in lower-paying specialties: alleviate the six-figure debt that comes with pursuing a medical degree. Those who do graduate, saddled with thousands in debt, are often drawn to more lucrative specialties, creating a shortage of professionals in lower-paying fields like primary care and pediatrics.

Other medical schools have attempted to assuage the financial burden of medical school, including the University of Houston's College of Medicine, which offered full scholarships to its inaugural class.

"This decision recognizes a moral imperative that must be addressed, as institutions place an increasing debt burden on young people who aspire to become physicians", Robert I. Grossman, dean of the medical school and chief executive officer of N.Y.U.

The Wall Street Journal reported today the move is a first among major US medical schools.

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"Our hope - and expectation - is that by making medical school accessible to a broader range of applicants, we will be a catalyst for transforming medical education nationwide", said Kenneth Langone, chair of the Board of Trustees of NYU Langone Health. That is partly propelled by the fact that almost half of third- and fourth-year students say that their choice in medical specialty is influenced by projected income-or by debt burden. They owed an average amount of $191,000, according to a survey by the Association of American Medical Colleges. But the medical school community isn't sure if it'll start a trend. By liberating both prospective and present medical students from the shackles of educational debt, a medical school can alter the topography of American health care by helping increase diversity in the provider population, improve access to care by minority patients, resolve the deficit of primary care physicians, and empower the battle against burnout. "I think a lot of schools would love to be able to do this, but it's more hard for some schools".

"That level of debt is impacting the physician workforce", said Rivera. "It takes a tremendous effort to pull something like this off and it's pretty impressive", she said.

The initiative covers the $55,018 in annual tuition costs, the school says, and is effective immediately for all current and incoming students. "Medical school is still a great investment", she said.

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