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Editorial: Free med school makes sense

When you consider the dearth of physicians in our large and rural state, and the fact we have a world-class medical school smack dab in the middle of it, it makes perfect sense to address the former with the latter.

That’s what Dr. Paul Roth, dean of the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, is proposing via HB 246, sponsored by Rep. Javier Martinez, D-Albuquerque. The bill provides for an annual $6 million appropriation from the Legislature to set up the New Mexico Health Equity Scholarship.

In an op-ed published in the Journal Feb. 9, Roth, who is also chancellor of Health Sciences, writes “We are short on doctors, long on waitlists to see one. … By requiring medical students to sign on for post-residency practice in return for free medical tuition, we will infuse our state’s physician workforce with the new blood we so desperately need.”

Roth says in 15 years the scholarship will deliver 230 additional M.D.s “in clinics and hospitals in rural and urban areas, at trauma centers … and in specialty centers statewide.”

Free medical school with appropriate clawbacks – if a student can’t/won’t honor the determined number of years of practicing in New Mexico, their bill needs to be reinstated – promises to be a remedy to our state’s doctor shortage and to the insurmountable cost of medical school to low-income students. Lawmakers should give it serious consideration.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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