New for-profit medical schools may help solve physician shortage

Doctor

For-profit medical schools can play a powerful role in educating future doctors to care for patients in underserved parts of the country--but they also have their critics, reports the Associated Press (AP).

It’s only since 2007--when Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine opened its doors in Parker, Colorado--that education at a for-profit medical school was even an option in the United States. California Northstate University School of Medicine and New Mexico’s Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine have since joined the ranks of the country’s for-profit medical schools and others are opening, according to the news service.

Robert Hasty, M.D., dean of the Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine, told the AP that the need for doctors is so dire that it’s worth it to make this investment in for-profit schools. He downplays any stigma associated with a for-profit medical school by pointing out that for-profit hospitals were once a source of scorn--and they now make up about 25 percent of U.S. hospitals. Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine plans to start accepting students in 2018.

Ted Epperly, M.D., who runs a family practice residency in Boise, says for-profit medical schools sound like a great idea on the surface. But he likens the arrival of a for-profit medical school to the experience of having a “Wal-Mart moving into a small community with mom-and-pop shops--it damages the existing workforce producers.”

For-profit medical schools do come with risk. Florida’s Dade Medical College shut its doors last year due to severe financial difficulties, according to the Miami Herald, which reports that the medical school had received more than $100 million in Pell grants and student loans since opening in 1999.

- read the AP article
- check out the Miami Herald article