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What happens to a dream deferred? "Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun ... or does it explode?" Now, because of David Geffen, many aspiring medical students will not have to face this provocative question.
Mr. Geffen, the world-renowned entertainment executive and philanthropist after whom our medical school is named, has once again made a transformative gift to medical education. This time he has established a $100-million scholarship fund that will cover the entire education costs for a significant portion of students entering the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. This new fund is about more than just money. No more dreams deferred; this gift is about helping students to pursue their dreams.
Many medical students face a sizable financial burden upon graduation. Nationally, 86 percent of new doctors finished school in 2012 with an average debt of $170,000. While the average debt for UCLA students is not this high, it will, without intervention, continue to rise as the costs of tuition, fees and other expenses escalate. The projected four-year cost for medical students entering UCLA in 2013-14 is more than $300,000. Not surprisingly, studies show that debt has a significant influence on what field medical graduates pursue and where they develop their professional careers.
At this time of great societal need and unprecedented opportunity for improving health, it is critical that more medical students find relief from career-dictating debt. Freed to make career choices based on their passions, students are expected to pursue aspirations better aligned with the evolving healthcare needs of an ever-changing society.
Our ultimate goal is to provide optimal support for every student in our school. Mr. Geffen's extraordinary gift is a tremendous boost to our efforts. Coupled with other new student-support endeavors, like the Leaders of Tomorrow Scholars program, which covers tuition for students, and the increased alumni support provided through the 60th Anniversary Challenge for Medical Scholarships, we are well on our way.
On behalf of everyone in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and UCLA Health, I express our deepest gratitude to Mr. Geffen for his vision and continued efforts to revolutionize medical education. Because of him, fewer of our students will have their dream deferred - to the benefit of the lives they will save in the years to come.
A. Eugene Washington, MD, MSc, is the Vice Chancellor of UCLA Health Sciences, Dean of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and holds the Gerald S. Levey, MD, Endowed Chair