LEADER’S FIELD GUIDE
The White Coat Ceremony is an initiation for new medical students. Students don a white coat and often recite the Hippocratic Oath. They look like seasoned doctors even though their training has just begun. Following one White Coat Ceremony, students heard this: “As of this very moment, the NYU School of Medicine is now a tuition-free medical school.” Turns out, Ken Langone (co-founder of Home Depot) and his wife, Elaine, gave New York University School of Medicine $100M, then helped raise the remaining $350M– funding the endowment forever.
Why? Don’t doctors already make enough money? About 85% of today’s medical students will take on a debt burden of up to $200,000. According to Dr. Rafael Rivera, the Dean of Admissions at NYU Medical School, a liability that size can entice even the most sincere student to consider higher paying specialties like neurosurgery and orthopedics. Yet, the US really needs more students pursuing lower-paid specialties, like pediatrics, general internal medicine, and family medicine.
There are a few things that happen when debt is forgiven:
- More Passion: Medical student are no longer seeking higher paying roles solely to pay off debt. Students may now feel the freedom to pursue their area of interest.
- More Focus: One medical student was thrilled to announce he would no longer be working and focusing solely on his studies. The burden of mounting debt can be distracting.
- More Diversity: Many students pursuing the medical profession come from more affluent backgrounds. Free tuition draws students from a larger pool of potential applicants.
- More Generosity: Now that medical students have been given a gift of about $200,000, the hope is that graduates will some day pass on the same generosity afforded to them.
You have a right to push and say, “Why didn’t you make kids who could afford to pay, pay?” Because we really wanted to be blind in terms of the kids coming here. And we want them to know that they owe us nothing. That, one day, if you’re dealing with a patient who can’t afford to have something done, you might say, “It’s on me.” Pass it on. – Ken Langone
As Langone made his announcement, only a few digested his words immediately. Most, students and family alike, stared quietly in disbelief. Slowly, the audience started to clap, parents began to cry, and students eventually stood to express their gratitude. What could you forgive? Where would you see more passion, focus, diversity, and generosity? What could you pass on?
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michelle Sugerman (PMP, PCC) is a speaker, author, and leadership coach with Leading Synergies. She founded Synergy Groups, virtual masterminds connecting all Christians, everywhere, for the purpose of Community, Accountability, Transformation, and Leadership. She also partners with high-performers and heirs-apparent especially in the STEM industries. Michelle’s formal background in technology, franchise, and project management gives her an edge on implementing best practices and scaling towards sustainable success. Michelle lives in Colorado where she hikes fourteeners and enjoys gourmet meals with her loving husband of 23 years.
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