State Budget Includes $20M Investment in Med School Research Funding, $500,000 for Med School Scholarships for Students Underrepresented in Medicine

Monday, April 10, 2017

AMSNY: Investment Will Improve Health Outcomes, Create Jobs Statewide

(New York, NY) – The Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY) applaud Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature for the just-passed FY2018 state budget that includes a significant investment in medical school research, as part of the state’s larger commitment to life sciences proposed by Governor Cuomo. The budget also funds the creation of a scholarship for students underrepresented in medicine. These investments represent broader policy goals that have long been advanced by the Senate, Assembly, and the Governor.

The state’s $20M investment in research will be matched by the medical schools 2:1 and will be used to create new labs that will focus on biomedical research that will lead to better treatment and cures for diseases that ail New York’s residents. The labs will also be economic drivers, creating well-paying research jobs across the state. The state’s 16 medical schools, which stretch from Buffalo and Rochester to Long Island will be able to apply to access this funding. New York State is home to more medical schools than any other state in the nation.

The state’s $500,000 investment will support the creation of a new medical school scholarship program for 10 new students each year. The students will be selected from among AMSNY post-bac program graduates. The 25-year-old post-bac program, which is supported by the New York State Department of Health, has enabled 450 students from economically or educationally underserved areas to become doctors. The scholarship, which will be pegged to the cost of SUNY medical school tuition, will create even more opportunities by eliminating the financial barrier to medical school enrollment. When fully funded, 40 students a year will receive the scholarship. Scholarship recipients will be required to work in underserved areas in New York State once they become doctors.

“We are grateful to Governor Cuomo, the State Assembly, and Senate for making this substantial investment in New York’s future. Some of the most important medical breakthroughs were made at our medical schools and we know that investing in research pays off with a 7:1 ROI. This is a very smart investment. And, having more doctors who represent the great diversity of the state will further enable us to improve health outcomes. We are tremendously grateful,” said Jo Wiederhorn, President, AMSNY.

AMSNY estimates that for every $1 million invested by the State (matched 2:1 by the medical school recipient) will enable a school to recruit one world-class laboratory with approximately 8-10 employees. Research jobs are among the highest-paying jobs in the state, with an average salary of $74,000.

The State funds will be used for laboratory construction, purchase of analytic equipment and other expenses related to the recruitment and retention of scientific talent. New York has been a hub for medical discovery, not only producing world-class cures, but also giving state residents’ access to clinical trials that have improved and saved the lives of many. Cures discovered by researchers at New York medical schools include the first successful pediatric heart transplant (Columbia) first widely used vaccine against bacterial pneumonia (Downstate), the drug most prescribed for people suffering from relapsing multiple sclerosis (Buffalo), and the HPV vaccine (Rochester).

The new scholarships will help close the physician diversity gap: 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% of the physician workforce in 2014, compared to approximately 35% of New York’s population. The scholarship will be available to New York medical schools for students from economically and educationally underserved areas. 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. Across the country, the median level of debt for the class of 2015 was $183,000, not including accrued interest.

“The New York State Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators, and particularly Assembly Members Blake, People-Stokes, and Perry, Chair of Caucus, are our heroes. Thanks to them, we will not only further diversify our physician workforce, we’ll also improve patient health outcomes,” continued Wiederhorn. Data shows that patients who have doctors who represent their own diversity have better medical experiences.