Ruth Gottesman

Debt-free doctors

2 minute read

It’s an uncomfortable truth that the U.S., the richest nation in the world, does not have a particularly healthy population. This is partly because of a shortage of physicians, especially family doctors. Prospective medical students who do the math often find that the salaries they will earn are not high enough to pay back their medical school debt, unless they go into a lucrative specialty. The Association of American Medical Colleges forecasts that the U.S. will have a shortfall of 124,000 physicians by 2034, more than a third of them primary-care providers. 

Ruth Gottesman, 93, came up with a simple but stunning way to address this problem: this year, she gave $1 billion to the Albert Einstein College of Medicine to ensure that no student there will ever have to pay tuition. Over the years, this could lead to thousands of new medical professionals. 
Einstein is in the Bronx, where more than a quarter of the population live in poverty. All told, it costs about $100,000 a year to attend the school. Gottesman, who was a professor at the school and is now chair of its board of trustees, inherited a trove of Berkshire Hathaway stock when her husband David died in 2022. Her hope, she says, is that her gift “will open it up for many other students whose economic status is such that they wouldn’t even think about going to medical school.”

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