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Vital Signs:
Pages Past

In this section, we highlight tidbits from past issues of the magazine. These messages from yesteryear remind us of the pace of change as well as of some timeless truths.

From the Spring 1978 issue
"Eight years ago, the median tuition for private medical schools was $1,930," wrote DMS's dean, Dr. James Strickler. "This year, it is $5,000 and it continues to rise at an average rate of 11%. Dartmouth has proved no exception to this spiraling trend. In 1970 . . . the tuition charges for the first year . . . were $2,550; this year's entering class was faced with a first-year tuition fee of $6,140." Although "total scholarship support awarded this year amounted to $186,000," Strickler went on, "loan requirements are rising much faster than scholarship awards." As a result, "students are finding themselves falling deeper and deeper into debt. The average debt of Dartmouth Medical School students who will graduate this June will be $15,600."

John Hodgson '78, left

Nowadays, just one year's tuition is more than double that 1978 total debt figure; in the 2003-04 academic year, first-year tuition was $31,600. The scholarship total has risen, too; DMS awarded $2.6 million in scholarships this past year-more than 14 times the amount awarded in 1978. Nevertheless, students' loan burden is still staggering. In 2003, 73% of the graduates received some financial aid-loans or loans and scholarships- and their average debt was $93,000.

"We realize well that lack of [scholarship] support poses potentially grave problems," wrote Strickler back in 1978. "On the one hand, we risk the indenture of young doctors to a degree that forces them into high-paying specialty practices; on the other, we face the possibility that medicine will be reserved as a profession into which only the wealthy will be admitted."

The Spring 1978 issue also contained an article about some sports medicine studies conducted for a required physiology research project by a member of that year's graduating class, John Hodgson. He described the process he had used to examine the pulmonary and cardiac function of members of the U.S. national ski team and the Dartmouth College ski team. Today, Hodgson is an interventional cardiologist in Ohio.

If you would like to offer any feedback about this article, we would welcome getting your comments at DartMed@Dartmouth.edu.

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