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This month, the School of Medicine of New York University (NYU), one of the highest rated in the country, went one step further. It announced that it will scrap tuition fees for all of its medical students, regardless of their financial situation or ‘merit’. The scheme will enter into effect immediately and will benefit all current and future students. Annual tuition until now has been about $ 55,000. 62% of NYU medical in medicine graduated with debt. The average amount of debt of the class of 2017 was $ 184,000.
NYU relied less on social factors in their argumentation and more on the argument that the steep debt accumulated by graduates in medicine, in particular at prestigious and therefore costly schools, would endanger medical provision in some medical fields, such as family medicine (general practitioners), paediatrics and medical research. In these specialisations, the lifetime earnings of medical graduates are apparently far lower than in others. This, together with the considerable debt accumulated, was believed to make these specialisations unattractive for graduates in medicine.
NYU’s decision was generally welcomed, but some doubted that it would produce the desired effects. On 28 August, Bloomberg cited a recent survey according to which physicians in the US are generally wealthy. The annual salary in the profession was close to $ 300,000. And even though in some specialisations, annual revenue ranged between $ 400,000 and $ 600,000, primary care physicians still earned close to $ 220,000 per year and specialists nearly $ 320,000.
Given the above figures, one is tempted to wonder if the choice of specialisations of US medical graduates is motivated by greed rather than need.