Monday, June 2, 2008

Being a Doctor Just Got a Bit Easier

On my posting "Doctor, Lawyer, Engineering Chief" a number of commenters said that becoming a doctor was not a good bet because of the amount of debt medical students accrue in their school years. The June 9, 2008 edition of U.S.News & World Report has some interesting news about that debt. Medical school just might make a comeback among the frum.

The article is entitled "Med School Gets Cheaper for Some." "A growing number of medical schools are offering free or reduced-cost degrees. The Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine is waiving tuition for all its future students. The University of Central Florida will pay all tuition and living expenses for the entering class of its new medical school. Harvard is cutting as much as $12,500 from the annual bills of medical students whose families earn less than $120,000. And the Mayo Clinic is granting all newly admitted students at least $25,000 in scholarships toward the school's $29,000 tuition."

"The schools are trying to counteract the growing financial pressures that cause many med students to pursue high-paying specialties rather than, say, becoming a pediatrician in a low-income community. Public medical school graduates average about $120,000 in debt. Private school graduates typically owe about $160,000."

Given the all too real doctor shortage that has been forecast for as early as 2011-2015, and which is already being seen in some parts of the country, more medical schools are liable to jump on the bandwagon. It's certainly something to think about. Now all we have to do is see to it that our frum students actually get the kind of undergraduate education that would get them admitted to the medical schools that offer the lowered tuition.


Anonymous said...

Very interesting. Would make medical school attractive again. Your last line is the key though--we'd need to have frum kids that could get into the programs and that would mean adjusting their college education in many cases so that they actually got one. And it might mean adjusting their high school education as well.

Anonymous said...

Any chance this could be retroactive? My husband just finished all his training, and the student loan bills are astronomical :(

Bas~Melech said...

Wow. That's awesome. Maybe it's time to re-think some of my life decisions... Oh wait, I don't have any pre-med qualifications. Right, and I also realized recently that I don't love the sight of internal organs as much as I thought I would (though strangely, despite the fact that I now cringe at the sight of guts, I still harbor a childhood dream of being a surgeon. Go figure)

I wonder if NYU will go this route anytime in the foreseeable future...

Anonymous said...

If what is being tried works then for sure other schools will offer the same or similar tuition programs. They have to stay competitive. I would think though that the tuition drop will be among the better private schools. They have larger endowments from where to make up the money.

I don't think that the programs will last for ever either. Just until they get the doctor shortage taken care of. But it's a good time to take advantage of what is being offered.

Anonymous said...

I don't get it how could there be a doctor shortage (that's to be fixed by tuition cuts) and difficulty to get acceptance into a medical school?

Hey, wait, I just figured it out. High tuition is not a cause of doctor shortage, the real cause is shortage of medical schools.

Scraps said...

This is welcome news. A close relative of mine is a doctor in a (proportionally-)underpaid subspecialty, and she has been saying for years that there will soon be a shortage of doctors in her field because students these days graduate with too much debt to afford to get paid less than the Big Bucks. Even now, she and her colleages are getting older, nearing retirement age, even as their service population is growing, and there are no new doctors coming into her field, as it is not nearly as lucrative as many other types of medicine. Nor is she able to increase the volume of patients as a way of increasing her income, as it is not the type of medicine where one can simply schedule appointments five minutes apart and get away with it. So this is welcome news indeed...

ProfK said...

There are 132 medical schools at present in the US, not including those medical schools which grant the Doctor of Osteopathy degree. I'm not so sure it's a lack of medical schools that is causing the problem with students being accepted.

Medical schools are picky about who they admit--they are looking for top students. Hey, I'm all for that. Do I really want to have my health issues handled by someone who was a second or third rate student in college? Top marks alone won't guarantee a top doctor, but a poor student will hardly guarantee a top doctor either. I'd rather take my chances with the top student.

Anonymous said...

I don't know how many medical schools there are, but I do know that some of them are pretty small. I remember doing a research a few years ago on what is needed to get into a medical school and was pleasantly surprised that only half of the medical schools require a BA/BS. The other half (Yale among them) requires 5 college coarses taken and MCATs.

Anyway, while doing this research I came upon medical schools which were literally tiny. Number of students graduating per year was in single digits. Other schools had larger classes with 20-40 students graduating each year. That, in my opinion, is a very small number of young doctors in America.

ProfK said...

mlevin and anyone else interested in the figures, go to Gives the latest data for the med schools for 2007. The smallest school has 24 students but it isn't a separate medical school--it is a program within a larger program.

As to the Yale, puzzled me greatly and none of my research turned up the no undergraduate degree requirement. According to their information for applicants page they are expecting the degree and with at least a 3.73 average and an 11.3 MCAT. They only accept 6.3% of their applicants so they can afford to be fussy. They do accept a limited number of applicants who have equivalent degrees from out of country. I wouldn't count on taking only 5 courses and then going to Yale.

Need to keep in mind also that there are medical schools and then there are MEDICAL SCHOOLS, and where you go to school makes a huge difference in your acceptance for residencies.

Anonymous said...

ProfK- here are the minimum requirement into Yale schools of medicine

The minimum requirements for admission to the first-year class are:

1. Attendance for three academic years, or the equivalent, at an accredited college of arts and sciences or institute of technology.

2. Satisfactory completion of the following courses including laboratory work:

General Biology or Zoology
General Chemistry
Organic Chemistry
General Physics
(Acceptable courses in these subjects usually extend over one year and are given six to eight semester hours credit.) These courses should be completed in a U.S. or Canadian college or university. Advanced courses may be substituted for introductory-level courses in each of these subjects.

Undergraduate Majors The Admissions Committee has no preference as to a major field for undergraduate study and leaves this decision to students with the advice that they advance beyond the elementary level in the field of their choice rather than pursue an undirected program. A liberal education is the supporting structure for graduate study, and must encompass understanding of the humanities, arts, and society as well as the scientific foundations of technology and civilization. The student of medicine enters a profession closely allied to the natural sciences and must be prepared to cope with chemistry and biology at a graduate level. Students entering college with a strong background in the sciences, as demonstrated by advanced placement, are encouraged to substitute advanced science courses for the traditional requirements listed above.

ProfK said...

The same page also said "It is recommended that students should enter medical school after four years of study in a college of arts and sciences." They may list the minimum requirements but would you like to place a wager as to how many students they accept based solely on those minimums? Not to mention that it is possible to complete college in three years, instead of four. They may not say "BS required" but that's how it reads anyway.