20 Jul Racial Disparities in How Students Pay For Medical School
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
University of Minnesota Medical School Research Consultant
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? & What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Financing medical school is an opaque and important topic because the cost of attendance of medical school has risen much faster than inflation for decades. Over the same time period, the racial wealth gap has widened. We found significant differences in how students of different socioeconomic and racial/ethnic backgrounds are planning to pay for medical school at the time of matriculation. Family or personal financing is far more common for high-income students. Among Black students, family or personal financing was markedly lower than other racial/ethnic groups, which could be a reflection of the wealth gap – which is rooted in structural racism.
This may create educational disparities as the field becomes increasingly racially, ethnically, and socioeconomically diverse; there are many costs outside of tuition and living that may be considered “variable” or “non-essential” but necessary for high-quality education, including expensive board prep materials and transportation during clinical rotations. Furthermore, the stark deficit in family financing may be one reason why Black students currently report the highest debt burden of all racial/ethnic groups.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: Future research should look at how differential financing methods affect outcomes such as burnout, financial health, educational quality, and career decision-making.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Response: We hope that these findings open the door for more conversations about how students are paying for medical school, because if costs continue to rise as they have, financing disparities may exacerbate existing racial and socioeconomic financial disparities among trainees.
Shahriar AA, Sagi V, Castañón-Gonzalez LA, Kottke TE, Vazquez-Benitez G, Crichlow R. Comparison of Medical School Financing Plans Among Matriculating US Medical Students From 2017 to 2019. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(7):e2117704. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.17704
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