In an earlier article, I focused on the many years of study-often over 18 years after High School-it takes for a pre-medical student to actually practice his specialty.
At nearly age 40, he/she is now burdened with hundreds of thousands of dollars of crippling educational debt.
This situation is the catalyst for several avenues of stress.
First, the pressure to repay the loans forces many doctors to choose high-paying specialties-- when they would otherwise choose less lucrative ones such as practicing family medicine(primary care) in under-served communities. This is a specialty whose shortages could total an alarming 35,000 by 2025 and even much more by 2030.
The financial stress has further ramifications once our doctor begins to see patients.
Unwittingly or wittingly, our caregiver is, in many specialties, forced to sacrifice a leisurely in- depth doctor/ patient relationship (refer to The Model of Empathetic Medicine : The Way it Was) in favor of short cursory visits in order to see as many patients as possible per hour.
Now comes an eye-opening series of events, perhaps a game changer.
Recently, both NYU Medical School and Columbia Physicians and Surgeons have announced programs to offer (a) free tuition to all students regardless of need (in the case of NYU) and (b) full tuition scholarships to those in greatest financial need, while others would get only grants, not loans, to make up their need (in the case of Columbia).
Tune in to my next article which will answer the question whether offering 'free' tuition is really a boon to ameliorating the crises facing traditional medicine today.