Medical educators can respond to the growing cost of obtaining a degree in medicine, according to a paper published in the Korean Journal of Family Medicine.
According to a report published by the American Association of Medical Colleges, the cost of medical school has never been higher, and student loan debt associated with becoming a doctor continues to grow. The paper, written by Kieran Walsh, clinical director of BMJ Learning and former hospital doctor, highlights the hefty price tag that comes with becoming a doctor and the resulting debt that students take on at the start and end of their undergraduate medical education. In the paper, Walsh calls on medical educators to respond to the concerns surround the cost and debt associated with medical school and offers several ways to address the issue. When it comes to working part time to earn money while student, Kieran points out that there are advantages and disadvantages when it comes to taking on additional responsibilities to earn money. While having a part-time job could help reduce a student’s debt, Kieran states that time at medical school is a premium. “There is always a concern that a job could eat into study time,” Kiran wrote. “Most institutions advise students against working more than 15 hours per week while studying full time.”
Next, Kieran says even before applying to medical school, students should consider the cost of living in the areas where schools are located and says that this factor cannot be ignored since tuition fees of schools and accommodation costs vary widely depending on location. “If we are serious about widening participation in medicine, then we need to think beyond the classical university experience.”
Another, less discussed option are grants or bursaries. Kieran explains that charitable organizations and national health or education institutions offer grants or bursaries to medical students. “These grants or bursaries may offer variable levels of financial support and have different eligibility requirements,” Kieran stated. “However, their ultimate aim is to offer support to those medical students who need it most. While these examples of “tactical” opportunities are not all inclusive, Kieran says that they can help cover the cost of medical school in a significant way. On the flip side, students should also “think like an investor,” Kieran points out. “They will be investing a large amount of money in their tuition and living over a five- or six-year period,” Kieran noted. “This is in addition to the opportunity costs-the earning that they would have accrued if they had not been in medical school.