Students that enroll in Kaiser Permanente’s new medical school as part of its first five graduating classes will be able to attend for free. The California-based health system is preparing to open one of few medical schools in the United States not connected to a university. The newly formed Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine will be located in Pasadena, Calif. at 98 S. Los Robles Ave. Construction of the school is expected to be completed later this year.
Prospective students can begin applying for positions at the university in June 2019. Each class will have 48 students, which is less than usual for a medical school. The first class of students will begin taking classes in the summer of 2020. Students accepted during the first five years of enrollment will attend the school for free for all four years of their medical education.
According to the announcement, the school will focus on foundational science, clinical science, and health systems science. The students will learn in a hands-on environment through Kaiser’s network of hospitals and clinics throughout the region. They will focus on primary care during their first year and add surgery, pediatrics, and psychiatry, as well as obstetrics and gynecology, during the second year.
Kaiser is planning to pay the cost of educating the students (roughly $55,000 per student) using revenue set aside for “community benefits,” which all nonprofit hospitals have to provide to keep their tax-exempt status. Beyond the first five classes, the health system plans to provide “very generous financial aid” based on need to eligible students. Kaiser does not plan to cover room and board for students, but the students will be offered insurance through its system.
Kaiser is one of several schools trying to reduce the financial burden of a medical education for its students. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), a student residing at a private U.S. medical school will spend nearly $60,000 on their education in 2018-2019. Seventy-six percent of medical students graduating in 2017 graduated with education debt.