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Opinion: Why med school should be free

The New York Times, May 31, 2011

Doctors are among the most richly rewarded professionals in the country. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that of the 15 highest-paid professions in the United States, all but two are in medicine or dentistry. Why, then, are we proposing to make medical school free? Huge medical school debts — doctors now graduate owing more than $155,000 on average, and 86% have some debt — are why so many doctors shun primary care in favor of highly paid specialties, where there are incentives to give expensive treatments and order expensive tests, an important driver of rising healthcare costs. Making medical school free would relieve doctors of the burden of student debt and gradually shift the work force away from specialties and toward primary care. It would also attract college graduates who are discouraged from going to medical school by the costly tuition.