10 Ways to Make Medical School Free

The need for doctors is growing, but so is the cost of tuition at the nation's medical school. Here are 10 ways we could eliminate tuition altogether.

Average medical student debt is about $180,000 and some feel that it creates perverse incentives about specialty career choices. The cost of attending a private medical school in the US can easily exceed $250,000. Tuition alone, for example, at Georgetown is over $50,000 a year.

There are presently 141 accredited MD-granting institutions and 31 accredited DO-granting institutions in the United States. All DO schools are private.

For a few, medical school can be free. For the large majority, though, big tuition bills will come due each year.

Here are some ways to create tuition free state-supported medical schools:

1. Those choosing to go into highly paid specialties would forgo their salaries during training.

2. Consolidate basic science courses into a handful offered online by the best of the rest.

3. Sell medical schools to private equity and use a different business model that has a claim to a part of future earnings.

4. Consolidate and integrate undergraduate and medical school education.

5. Impose a medical manpower tax that pays for tuition but mandates a term of community service within the state following graduation.

6. Create a one-year primary care preparedness experience (we used to call it a one-year rotating medical internship) for graduates of free state-supported schools. After a defined term of required primary care service, recipients could then apply for residencies in an alternative pathway.

7. Create a scholarship fund for tuition-free primary care doctors.

8. Use revenue streams from university-based technology commercialization ventures to support medical student tuition.

9. Identify philanthropreneurs to cover expenses. Should those universities with huge endowments and medical schools still charge tuition?

10. Crowd-fund tuition.

While the numbers of those seeking care continues to escalate, the supply of doctors has not. Free tuition to state-supported medical schools might help address the need.