Washington University School of Medicine commits $100 million to scholarships

| Senior News Editor

Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis will devote $100 million to scholarships over the next ten years, the University announced Tuesday.

The scholarships will cover full tuition for up to half of the University’s future medical students and partial tuition for many other students. Aid will also be allocated to revise the medical school’s curriculum.

The scholarship initiative aims to lessen the burden of medical school debt and will begin with the 2019-2020 incoming class.

“We want to make medical education available to more students,” Dean of the School of Medicine Dr. David Perlmutter said. “We want to attract the most talented people to becoming physicians, and this kind of program allows us to attract students that wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford medical school and students that are very, very talented who will get merit-based scholarships.”

“We’re also hoping to reduce the barriers to entering careers…that support people going into research, education and community advocacy and support,” Senior Associate Dean for Education Dr. Eva Aagaard said.

According to Perlmutter, the average amount of debt for Washington University medical students is around $99,000, and the national average is around $167,000. Aagard said that the medical school is able to limit student debt through a combination of tactics.

“We do that through merit scholarships and also [a] very substantial need-based aid program that calculates people’s need based on something called the FAFSA,” Aagaard said “Then we provide half of that need in scholarship dollars and half through loans. So that is very generous compared to many other places.”

The programs are a result of new funding from the School of Medicine’s departments and affiliated teaching hospitals, Barnes-Jewish Hospital and St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

“This is institutional funding, so the difference here is we don’t have a big donor,” Perlmutter said “We’re doing this, we’re committing this from funds that would go to other purposes.”

The funding for the revised medical school curriculum will provide support and training to faculty on the best methods to teach their medical students. The new curriculum will include an emphasis on outcome-based education, or competency education.

“A second priority will be using active learning methodologies, including earlier integration into the clinical environment, so that students can get more exposed to taking care of patients earlier and throughout their training,” Aagaard said. “A third piece of it is something called integration, where they get an experience of learning science and then applying it at the patient’s bedside as much as possible throughout their training and then returning to the basic sciences later on again to go into what the future holds for science and how science will be applicable to future novel treatments and therapy.”

The University expects to implement the new curriculum at the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year.

“The fourth big part of curriculum renewal is focusing on community engagement, and so really trying to partner with our community partners to do good in the community, determined by the community,” Aagaard said.

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