Should Tuition Be Free for Medical School?

The Huffington Post—September 15, 2011

Helene Pavlov, M.D., FACR, Radiologist-in-Chief at Hospital for Special Surgery

Institute free medical school tuition to increase the number of primary care physicians and decrease the costs of health care; and do it now as it takes time to qualify, apply, and train new doctors. This is the message of the May 29, 2011 New York Times article in the Sunday Opinion section written by two reputable physicians, Drs. P. Bach and R. Kocher, both with laudable credentials in health care reform and politics. Their simplistic solution and hypothesis, however noble, is confusing.

The premise of the article is that more physicians graduating from medical school need to enter primary care practices instead of specialization. Drs. Bach and Kocher propose accomplishing this goal by eliminating the financial burden of medical school tuition. The authors state that young doctors specialize because specialists make more money than primary care physicians and these young doctors need to make more money in order to repay the loans they accumulated during medical school. Therefore, they hypothesize, if medical school was free, the number of medical school graduates entering primary care would increase.

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