Doctors Call Out NYU Med School’s Free Tuition Announcement As Ignoring Real Needs

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Evie Fordham Politics and Health Care Reporter
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Doctors are calling out New York University School of Medicine for its Aug. 16 announcement that its MD program will be tuition free for all current and future students.

“NYU took a shot but missed the mark, despite all the hoopla surrounding its announcement and the framing of its offer as generous philanthropy to the tune of $600 million,” wrote Elisabeth Rosenthal, editor-in-chief of Kaiser Health News, in a New York Times opinion Tuesday.

The all-tuition scholarships are not the most effective way to incentivize doctors to work in underserved communities that are typically low-income, wrote Rosenthal, a former emergency room doctor.

NYU medical school, which has approximately 440 students, has stood by its choice.

“We believe we have taken a necessary, rational step that many other academic medical centers will soon choose to follow,” NYU medical school spokesperson Lisa Greiner told The Daily Caller News Foundation via email Monday.

Rosenthal touched on the same points that many doctors are making about NYU’s decision. Many see it as a move by NYU to gain an edge on the other medical schools it is competing with for students.

“As I start rank-ordering the various charities I want to give to, the people who can pay for medical school in cash aren’t at the top of my list,” said Craig Garthwaite, a health economist at Northwestern University, according to NPR.

NYU’s medical school is the “only top-ten ranked medical program” with an across-the-board free tuition policy, reported USA Today. The school receives more than 6,000 applications for about 100 seats per class and “would not be surprised” to see the number of applications go up after the free tuition announcement, Greiner told TheDCNF.

Tuition there costs $55,018 annually, compared to the average annual in-state tuition of $34,699 for public medical schools. NYU says it is making the change so that no student feels he or she cannot attend because of cost. The school also does not want students to feel pressured to go into high-paying specialties, rather than primary care, because of education-related debt.

Some doctors are sharing their doubts about that second reason. When surveyed, doctors often say that debt pushed them toward a high-paying specialty when in reality it was the draw of less hours and, of course, more money.

“No one [who chooses a higher-paying job] says they did it because they want two Teslas,” Garthwaite said according to NPR. “They say they have all this debt.”

There is no data to show that the doctors in high-paying specialties are the ones who racked up the most debt in medical school. (RELATED: NYU Just Announced Its Medical School Will Be Tuition Free. But What Will That Really Mean?)

“Debt doesn’t vary much across the specialties,” said Julie Fresne of the American Association of Medical Colleges according to NPR.

Follow Evie on Twitter @eviefordham.

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