There are several reasons for the runaway costs. One is that the academic medical centers that house medical schools have become increasingly complex and expensive to run, and administrators have relied on tuition hikes to support research and clinical resources that may have only an indirect impact on medical student education. An equally important contributor to the problem has been our society's placid acceptance of educational debt as the norm, a prerequisite to becoming a doctor. Obtaining a medical education is like purchasing a house, a car or any other big-ticket item, the thinking goes; going into debt and then paying over time with interest is just the way the world works. And, say many observers, newly minted doctors will earn big salaries, allowing them easily to reimburse their loans.
While it is true that most doctors can pay off their debt over time, those insouciant observers fail to consider how loan burdens can weigh heavily on a young person's idealism and career decisions. These choices have enormous social repercussions. Despite the well-studied benefits of a diverse physician workforce, more than half of all medical students currently come from families with household incomes in the top quintile of the nation. Even more worrisome, student concerns about debt are exacerbating the nation's physician shortage. By the end of this decade, we will be short nearly 50,000 primary care physicians and an additional 50,000 doctors of any kind. Educators and groups like the Association of American Medical Colleges have been trying to address the problem of medical student debt for more than a decade. Some have suggested simply freezing costs or prorating debt according to the earning potential of a student's chosen area of specialty. But the real importance of Mr. Geffen's donation for the rest of us lies in not its historic largesse, nor its hopeful vision. Rather, it is in the dramatic impact one individual can make when he makes medical education a priority, and the inevitable question such a gesture raises: Why has our society been so slow to do the same? Click here to read full article.
There is a subtle, but strong, undercurrent toward a perspective of entitlement pervasive in medical training, and it doesn’t let go when we graduate. Perpetually elusive, “enough” seems always just around the next corner. And it’s this entitlement mentality that leads to the financial struggles so common among students and doctors alike.
The best antidote to entitlement is found in the occasional email I receive from a medical or dental student relating their desire to give a financial gift to CMDA. It’s not the largesse of the gift or even the fact that God brought CMDA to their mind that makes my day. It’s the outpouring of their entitlement-free heart that brings a sense of grateful joy. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21, NIV 1984).
You may not have the resources to endow the medical education costs of a cadre of future doctors. But you do possess the antidote for entitlement…giving. It’s just what the Good Doctor ordered."