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AMA Looks to Put Brakes on Debt Load of Med Students

Where the hell have these folks been?

The AMA has a lot to answer for: leading the fight against "socialized" medicine for many years, systematic discrimination on the basis of age and race, I could go on.

The student AMA on the other hand gives us hope for the future as they seem to be taking a leading position on the need for reform of conflict of interest policies at medical schools.

From the WSJ:

Medical students who went into debt could figure on owing $126,714 in 2007 on average, up from $88,331 in 2000, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. You can figure the debt tab has only gone up since then.

Such statistics are being cited by American Medical Association as docs prepare for their annual confab in Chicago next week. There are hundreds of policy recommendations on the agenda — including some strategies aimed at reducing the med-student debt.

Suggestions under consideration would take approval by powers greater than the AMA. They include providing tax deductibility for tuition and loans, and expanding state and federal scholarship opportunities.

But another cost-cutting approach is investigating ways to reduce the length of medical schooling
—perhaps through competency-based curriculums, or through combined B.A./M.D. programs. Some schools already offer a variety of such combination programs, though only a handful actually shorten the total length of training.

For those that normally don’t worry about the school loans carried by docs, remember that the med school debt load can have broader implications. It’s one of the most common reasons given for problems like the shortage of physicians and the skewing of medical professionals toward specialty practices.

The single most important move to cut down debt appears to be shortening the time it takes to produce a physician. The best way to do this is through a three-year curriculum. People should look very carefully at what is meant by coompetency or integrated approaches. These can serve to make irrelevant basic science courses that could - if of sufficient quality - be opted out of at the medical school level. There are reasons why many medical schools would prefer not to have a three year option. As usual, follow the money...

How about a serious discussion of a three year curriculum at the U of M medical school? How about an integrated BA/MD program that would take students through in six years. A pilot program of 25 students which would be ramped up to 50 if it proved successful.

The U of M administration in general and the med school in particular likes to talk about change. How about some?

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