New York University offers free tuition to all medical students

"A population as diverse as ours is best served by doctors from all walks of life, we believe, and aspiring physicians and surgeons should not be prevented from pursuing a career in medicine because of the prospect of overwhelming financial debt", said Dr. Robert Grossman, dean of the NYU School of Medicine.

It says it is now the only top 10 United States medical school to offer such help. The financial support and commitment it takes for a school to provide such a broad incentive to students isn't realistic for all schools, said Julie Fresne, director of student financial services at the Association of American Medical Colleges.

New York University is set to become the first top-ranked institution in the U.S.to pay for the tuition of all its medical students. Langone Health, told The New York Times. NYU students can choose between the traditional four-year MD program or an accelerated three-year degree.

The crushing weight of debt that medical education places on students-debt that averaged some $191,000 across all schools and more than $206,000 for private schools in 2017, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC)-has consequences for prospective students and the future contours of US medicine alike. In the most recent application cycle, only 18 percent of matriculating medical students were African-American, Hispanic, American Indian, or native Alaskans, even though they make up almost 33 percent of the US population. Medical schools have tackled medical school debt in other ways. Among those with debt, the average student owed almost $191,000, which rises to $202,000 among private medical school graduates.

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Ease burnout. Educational debt can affect practicing physicians on highly personal level: the 48 percent of students graduating with greater than $200,000 in debt are 1.7 times more likely to experience symptoms of burnout.

NYU's announcement comes amid ballooning costs for medical education. Debt accumulated during medical school influences decision-making about what specialty to choose.

The free-tuition initiative began more than a decade ago when NYU created an endowment for that goal.

The latter reality is particularly problematic since, according to the AAMC, there is a projected doctor shortage of between 42,600 and 121,300 physicians relative to Americans' health care needs by 2030.

  • Ismael Montgomery