TitleDetermining the Full Costs of Medical Education in Thai Binh, Vietnam: A Generalizable Model
AuthorsBicknell William J, Beggs Andrew C, Tham Phi Van
PublicationHealth Policy and Planning. 2001 Dec; 16(4):412-420.
AbstractWe summarize a model for determining the full cost of educating a medical student at Thai Binh Medical School in Vietnam. This is the first full-cost analysis of medical education in a low-income country in over 20 years. We emphasize policy implications and the importance of looking at the educational costs and service roles of the major health professions.In Vietnam fully subsidized medical education has given way to a system combining student-paid tuition and fees with decreased government subsidies. Full cost information facilitates resource management, setting tuition charges at a school and adjusting budget allocations between medical schools, teaching hospitals, and health centres. When linked to quality indicators, trends within and useful comparisons between schools are possible. Cost comparisons between different types of providers can assist policy-makers in judging the appropriateness of expenditures per graduate for nursing and allied health education versus physician education. If privatization of medical education is considered, cost analysis allows policy-makers to know the full costs of educating physicians including the subsidies required in clinical settings.Our approach is intuitively simple and provides useful, understandable new information to managers and policy-makers. The full cost per medical graduate in 1997 was 111 462 989 Vietnamese Dong (US$9527). The relative expenditure per Vietnamese physician educated was 2.8 times the expenditure in the United States when adjusted for GNP per capita. Preliminary findings suggest that, within Vietnam, the cost to educate a physician is 14 times the cost of educating a nurse.Given the direct costs of physician education, the lifetime earnings of physicians and the costs that physicians generate for the use of health services and supplies, it is remarkable that so little attention is paid to the costs of educating physicians. Studies of this type can provide the quantitative basis for vital human resource and health services policy considerations.