EDITORIAL

When I grow up, I don't really want to be a doctor

Posted

No matter what your opinion might be of the current administration in the White House, one thing we can’t really complain about is how economic growth started under Obama continues  to expand under Trump.

A good economy means there’s plenty of jobs to go around. But it does create another problem — finding people to fill those slots.

A report released last year by the Society for Human Resource Management showed the toughest industries to recruit skilled and educated applicants is, by far, the medical industry. We’re talking doctors, nurses and specialists.

The education requirements for many health care jobs are steep. At the same time, however, interest in such important work is waning — especially with the very young, where fascination with being in the medical field typically is born.

In this week’s issue, you’ll find our near-annual special publication, “K-Kids,” where we surveyed more than 580 kindergartners throughout Riverdale and Kingsbridge.

While it’s hardly a scientific poll, we asked all of the youngsters what they wanted to be when they grew up. Just 8 percent of them said they wanted to be doctors. Less than 3 percent thought about being a nurse. And you don’t want to know how few considered becoming a dentist.

Of course, it’s likely many of these very early career choices will change as these young minds get older. And surely, their parents will nurture them through any career choice they want to strive for. But that nurturing needs to have an emphasis very early on education — not just elementary school, middle school, high school and college, but post-graduate as well.

Yet, that approach also means these children could see a mountain of student loan debt crushing them by the time they’re ready to clock in for their first day of work.

New York has made a difference through its newly implemented Excelsior Scholarship program — but even that would ultimately only help thousands of students out of more than a million who seek financial aid each year.

Work to reduce student loan debt ultimately must come from Washington. Yet it’s unlikely anything will happen anytime soon, especially with Republicans in charge of all branches.

Various resources have determined that 44 million borrowers have $1.3 trillion in student loan debt in the United States. That’s an average of  just under $30,000 per borrower. But the higher your educational level, the higher your debt climbs — and fewer people these days want to take on that kind of risk.

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the average medical school debt balance for physicians was $183,000 in 2015. And by the time they pay that off, they’re actually shelling out four times that amount.

The United States is quickly falling behind the rest of the developed world. If we really want to make America great again, it has to start with affordable education.

Comments