Last September, New York University Medical School announced free tuition for its incoming class of future doctors. The initiative was created to encourage students to pursue “primary care specialties or work in underserved areas.”
Since then Long Island Medical School and Kaiser Permanente Medical School are set to offer free tuition in the upcoming years.
With the hope to fill underserved specialties, it seems as though medical school is on its way to becoming more accessible to people of diverse backgrounds.
However, the gap between potential candidates and those with the means to attend is still staggering.
Medical school will cost students approximately $58,668 per year. Law school runs at around $43,020, and the average cost of attaining a master’s degree in another field will run you around $30,000 or more, depending on the school and program.
These numbers are four times higher than the cost of attaining an undergraduate degree. Rightfully so, considering the expertise, technology and field experience required to be considered a professional.
However, alienating an entire demographic of students with cost has implications far beyond students having to pick another career path.
A paper published by the Assosciation of American Medical Colleges indicates the average income for matriculation medical students at around $100,000. This, coupled with the fact that the average American household income is around $60,000 we are left to consider access to medical school on a discriminatory level.
Are certain students being rejected from the medical field before they even submit their application to continue their education? The numbers certainly say so.
In 2016, 68 percent of the medical field was comprised of white physicians. This over represented the U.S. population by nearly 7 percent or 22.6 million Americans.
Currently, as it stands, we have a medical workforce that does not represent us as a population.
It is not just the medical field. An article by the Washington Post argues that “law is the least diverse profession in the nation.” We have a significant diversity issue within the professional fields of our country and our world.
A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that black men received more effective, preventative services by black doctors compared to a non-black physician.
Numbers by the Harvard Business Review indicate that more black doctors in the workforce could even reduce cardiovascular mortality, closing the gap between them and their white counterparts.
Representation matters in more than just the entertainment industry — it has the chance to save lives.
It all starts with access and the ability for women, people of color and low income students to afford the chance to follow their dreams.