Preparing for Medical School

Free medical school tuition at NYU marks bold step

Brendan Murphy , Senior News Writer

The future of American health care depends greatly on attracting the best and the brightest minds to medicine. Among the challenges facing future physicians is the $150,000 elephant in the room—that is the minimum amount the majority of medical students expect they will have to repay in loans, according to a 2017 survey conducted by AMA Insurance.

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Now a headline-grabbing free tuition policy recently instituted by New York University (NYU) School of Medicine will go a long way toward eliminating that burden.

Officials at NYU—a member school of the AMA Accelerating Change in Medical Education Consortium—announced that they are offering full tuition scholarships to current and future medical students regardless of need or merit. The yearly tuition costs covered by the scholarship are $55,018.

“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, MD, the Saul J. Farber Dean of NYU School of Medicine and CEO of NYU LangoneHealth, said in a statement.

The significant student-loan burdens many trainees accumulate can contribute to the looming shortage of primary care physicians. The Association of American Medical Colleges predicts that by 2025 the U.S. will see a shortfall of up to 35,600 primary care physicians.

“Tuition-free medical education goes beyond the merit and financial scholarships, and debt cancellations that other academic centers have traditionally favored,” Rafael Rivera, MD, NYU’s associate dean for admissions and financial aid, added in the school’s statement. “More importantly, it addresses both physician shortages and diversity.”

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The unprecedented financial arrangement is just the latest impressive development at NYU.

This past spring, NYU’s graduates were the first to be educated by a curriculum that had been redesigned in order to create a new kind of medical trainee. As part of that institutional overhaul, NYU created the NYU Health Care by the Numbers Curriculum, a flexible three-year, individualized, technology-enabled, blended curriculum to improve care coordination and care quality.

The foundation for the curriculum is virtual patient panels derived from de-identified patient data gathered from NYU Langone Medical Center physician network practices panels. These panels immerse students in the data of a simulated group practice setting.

Quicker graduation means less debt

Schools within the AMA consortium are working to speed up the undergraduate medical education process. A positive result of such programs is a decrease in student debt.

Oregon Health & Science University developed a competency-based program as part of the five-year grant it received through the consortium that has reduced medical student debt by nearly $17,000 per student since 2015 and allowed nearly 25 percent of its 2018 graduating class to graduate early.