Facebook status rant, September 10, 2013
This is an important story, and you should read it. If you have ANY concern about American medical education at all, you need to know about how the Caribbean medical schools operate, how they buy up residency seats that would otherwise go to (more-deserving?) stateside medical students, and how for those students who fail to win residencies, the American taxpayer winds up footing the bill for the almost inevitable default on debt. (If you don’t know about these things, click on the article and read it. I’ll wait.)
Here’s the thing: I don’t blame the for-profit schools that run these schools. At all.
The OVERWHELMING majority of students who choose to study medicine in the Caribbean would choose an American school – ANY American school – first. They would be retained by American schools better, because it’s HARD to live in a Caribbean nation studying medicine (ask anybody who studied at St. George’s who lived through the Grenada invasion). The reason they study in the Caribbean is because that’s the school that’s willing to give them a shot. The Caribbean schools (particularly St. George’s, which isn’t linked with DeVry, and Ross, which is) know this, educate students who are academically weaker but willing to work harder, and turn out a LOT of very good doctors as a result.
If American colleges and universities (and the public who funds them) actually believe that this is a bad thing, and that students should NOT take the bad deal of pursuing their medical education abroad, then they should put their money where their mouth is. There are not enough medical school seats for the students who would make good doctors, and there are CERTAINLY not enough medical school seats for the doctors we will need serving in primary care. You want to keep money out of for-profit hands? Empower the public sector to serve the people who want to become doctors, particularly those who want to be primary-care providers. (Central Michigan University is the example the article mentions that is actually stepping up, but that’s one example. We need more – a LOT more.)
Until then, even the bad actors in this field will be able to provide seats, and will find MORE than enough students competing for those seats – and the privilege to take on hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt in a third-world country in hopes of being able to take on a career where there is genuine demand for workers. Good job, America. Good job, good effort.