Becoming a physician is a lofty dream for many. One that includes a top education, respectability and great compensation. However, compensation is complicated for physicians, especially considering the cost of medical school. Four years of medical school can cost about $250,000, leaving the average student with $190,000 in student debt at graduation. If you add on to this the cost of living, the interest accrued on debt while in residency and the lost income opportunity during these grueling years, the expense of becoming a doctor is almost prohibitive. When you also consider the barriers faced by underrepresented populations, becoming a physician seems like an unsolvable riddle. For a country facing significant healthcare provider shortages, this is a disaster waiting to happen.
Fortunately, many New York City Medical Schools are finding real solutions for student debt. Columbia Medical School was the first, guaranteeing debt free graduation for its doctors by instituting scholarship-only financial aid in 2017. New York University School of Medicine now offers completely free tuition for all if its medical students. Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai implemented a program for its 2019 entering students that will cap their debt at $75,000. Weill Cornell Medicine offers all students who qualify for financial aid, scholarships that will cover tuition, room, board, and books. SUNY Downstate dramatically reduced its tuition for all in-state students, bringing it down to $6,620 per year for the 2018-2019 school year. Montefiore Health System, the University Hospital for Albert Einstein College of Medicine, is also finding creative ways to address student loans. Once employed, they are offering to convert unused PTO to the repayment of their student debt.
There are many financial challenges that come with medical training, but several institutions are finding ways to help. These steps will help to increase the socio-economic diversity of our physicians. Many barriers remain for disadvantaged students; getting into medical schools is a huge hurdle, but at least at these New York medical schools, once there the journey will be a little smoother.
Kathy Lin, Marketing Communications Manager
Kathy writes content for Tal Healthcare, a healthcare career website. She has a background in recruiting, sales, and teaching. She holds a BA in Biology from the University of Vermont. When she isn’t writing you can find her outside running, skiing or biking.