Last week, NYU School of Medicine announced free tuition for all current and future medical school students.
In a press release, the school described the announcement as a surprise ending to the annual White Coat Ceremony, where new students receive the traditional white lab coat to commemorate the start of their career in medicine.
How Free Medical School Tuition Helps Us All
“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,” says Robert I. Grossman, MD, the Saul J. Farber Dean of NYU School of Medicine and CEO of NYU Langone Health.
Students will still be responsible for approximately $27,000 in fees, room and board. However, the tuition-free plan should help decrease students’ debt load, which in turn may affect their choice of specialty.
“In the U.S., only 3 in 10 students choose to practice in the primary care specialties of internal medicine, family medicine, and pediatrics, which generally have lower salaries than specialties like cardiology or anesthesiology,” writes Eli Cahan at STAT. “That is partly propelled by the fact that nearly half of third- and fourth-year students say that their choice in medical specialty is influenced by projected income — or by debt burden.”
Cahan also points out that free tuition programs could improve the diversity of the profession. Currently, only 18 percent of incoming medical students identify as African-American, Hispanic, Native American or Native Alaskan.
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Few medical schools have launched similar programs. The Times notes that UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine pays all expenses, including room and board, for about 20 percent of its students based on merit.
Approximately 20,000 students enter medical school each year in the U.S. A recent study from the Association of American Medical Colleges estimates a shortage of between 42,600 and 121,300 physicians by 2030.
For more information on student loan debt and projected income after graduation, see PayScale’s 2018 College ROI Report.
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