K Walsh
Journal Issue: 
Volume 44: Issue 4: 2014


What lessons can be learned from the history of cost and value in medical education? First, the issue of cost and value in medical education has been around for a long time. Rising costs and an economic recession have made us focus on the subject more, but the issue has been just below the surface for over 200 years. A problem like this will not go away by itself – we must tackle it now. Second, the history of cost and value in medical education makes us look critically at who should pay. Should it be students, institutions or governments? We can see from the past that several different models have been tried; that all have their advantages and disadvantages; and that none are perfect. Third, looking at the past should make us realise that the issue of cost in medical education cannot be viewed in isolation. Medical educators throughout history have looked at how cost can affect selection for medical school, how costs can be related to benefits, and the effect of rising costs on career choices. Cost in medical education has always had far reaching consequences and implications. It probably always will. Looking at issues in medical education from the perspective of cost often makes them more stark and explicit – this in turn may help us to start to find solutions. In the future our solutions must be evidence based and must take account of cost.
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