(New York, NY) – The Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY), a not for profit organization that represents the 16 medical schools in New York State, is calling on the state legislature to create a new scholarship program to enable more students from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in medicine to attend medical school. AMSNY is requesting $2.4 million to expand state-funded diversity in medicine programming, including the new scholarship program, which will cost $400,000 in the first year.
The proposed program would provide scholarships to New York medical schools for students from economically and educationally underserved areas, indexed to the average tuition and fees at the four SUNY medical schools (~$40,000 per year, with a maximum of 4 years). The scholarship will initially be offered to 10 students, and expanded to an annual cohort of 40 students in four years.
The rationale behind the program is the cost of medical education. For many students, paying for a medical education is a daunting challenge— of the graduating class of 2015, 81 percent of medical students reported leaving medical school with student loan debt, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). Across the country, the median level of debt for the class of 2015 was $183,000, not including accrued interest. This need for financial assistance is a significant barrier to medical school enrollment particularly for students traditionally underrepresented, who tend to come from low-income backgrounds.
“These scholarships are essential to create a more diverse physician workforce in New York,” said Jo Wiederhorn, President of AMSNY, which has, for 25 years, created and managed pipeline programs that have enabled individuals traditionally underrepresented in medicine to attend medical schools and become doctors.
Achieving a diverse physician workforce is imperative in order to reduce health-care disparities. According to AAMC, physicians from racial and ethnic backgrounds typically underrepresented in medicine (Black/African American; Hispanic/Latino; American Indian/Alaskan Native) are significantly more likely to practice primary care, practice in impoverished areas or practice in areas federally designated as medically underserved. Yet, according to data from the SUNY Albany Center for Health Workforce Studies, underrepresented minorities (Blacks/African Americans; Hispanics/Latinos; American Indians/Alaska Natives) made up only 9 percent of the physician workforce in 2014, compared to approximately 35 percent of New York’s population.
Increased diversity can also affect healthcare outcomes, as research indicates that race concordance between patient and physician results in longer visits and increased patient satisfaction, and language concordance has been positively associated with adherence to treatment among certain racial or ethnic groups.
On top of increasing the diversity of doctors in New York States, the scholarship will help address geographic health care disparities, as scholarship awardees will have to commit to practice medicine in an area of the state with a shortage of physicians, as designated by the Board of Regents. They will provide one year of service per year receiving the scholarship.
AMSNY is also requesting increased funding to support existing, successful AMSNY programs that increase the pipeline of medical students from economically and educationally underserved areas. These include four post-baccalaureate programs, hosted by the medical schools, from which 93 percent of participants go on to graduate from medical school. AMSNY is requesting that the state increase funding for these programs from $1.6 million to $2 million. The increased funding will allow AMSNY to continue running the seven programs currently funded by the Department of Health, as well as important prior diversity programming that was defunded as a result of state budget cuts. Students who participate in any of these programs will receive priority selection for the scholarships.
The Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY) is a consortium of the 16 public and private medical schools throughout New York State. AMSNY’s mission is to promote high quality and cost-efficient health care by assuring that the medical schools of New York State can provide outstanding medical education, care and research. The combined total of New York’s medical schools economic impact equals more than $85.6 billion. This means $1 in every $13 in the New York economy is related to AMSNY medical schools and their primary hospital affiliates. For more information on AMSNY, please visit: www.amsny.org