You are here

Debt relief: A new way to attract top doctors

Promising young physicians receive help paying down medical school loans through the Wilmer Eye Institute's Next Generation Fund, established by a former Board of Governors co-chair
Posted March 8, 2017
  • Megan Collins, MD, fits a young student with a new pair of eyeglasses as part of the Baltimore Reading and Eye Disease Study (BREDS).

  • Collins, an assistant professor of ophthalmology, received the Wilmer Eye Institute's 2016 Next Generation Fund award, which will help her pay down her medical school loans.

  • The Wilmer and School of Education experts collaborating on BREDS include (l-r) Michael Repka, MD; David Friedman, MD, MPH, PhD; Collins; and Robert Slavin, PhD.

Six digits of debt. That's what graduating medical students often face. In fact, the average medical school student graduated with a median debt of $183,000 in 2015, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

"If you've been going to medical school and maybe you're married and you've got a family, it's pretty tough to pay off that debt," said Rick Forsythe, a medicine trustee emeritus and a former co-chair of the Wilmer Eye Institute's Board of Governors. "It's a big incentive if somebody else comes in and says, 'We'll take the debt off your hands.'"

Forsythe believed Wilmer needed to be that somebody, so in 2012, he and his wife, Sandy, provided the seed money to launch the Next Generation Fund. Its goal: to give Wilmer Director Peter J. McDonnell, MD, "some ammunition" for trying to attract and retain the highest caliber doctors as junior faculty members and fellows. The beneficiaries chosen each year receive funds to pay down their student loans.

"We can build all the buildings you want; unless there are great doctors in them, they're no good," said Forsythe. "And we want the pick of the litter."

Pediatric ophthalmologist Megan Collins, MD, is the 2016 beneficiary of the Next Generation Fund. Said Collins: "Being chosen as a recipient has provided me the opportunity to pursue exciting research opportunities in vision and public health. I am grateful for the generosity of the Forsythe Family and the support of Dr. McDonnell. It truly is an honor."

This article originally appeared in the Wilmer Eye Institute's Sightline publication.

Editor's note: Support from the Next Generation Fund enabled Collins to join the team leading the Baltimore Reading and Eye Disease Study (BREDS), a collaborative effort of Wilmer and the Hopkins School of Education. BREDS provides low-income children in Baltimore City with eyeglasses then assesses how those glasses affect the students' reading ability. Learn more about BREDS on The Hub.