The Government Accountability Office released a report this week on the role of federal student loans in supporting foreign medical schools. Like the recent Congressional hearings on for-profit undergraduate education, foreign medical schools claim billions of dollars in federal aid from students with little evidence about return on the investment.
One of the GAO’s findings, as reported in Inside Higher Ed is that 97% of U.S. medical school graduates pass the Step 1 licensure exam on the first try, but only 64% of foreign medical school graduates do. If foreign medical schools, some of the largest of which are for-profit, receive taxpayer money, then they should produce competent doctors.
At the same time, foreign medical schools help meet the need for physicians in this country. And no doubt many of their graduates are outstanding doctors. The larger issue may be the high cost of medical education at home and abroad, which requires students to go deeply in debt to pursue their dreams.