Healthcare System in the United States

Effective education across all professions is crucial to producing competent graduates capable of addressing societal problems. The education sector has implemented various strategies and policies to ensure that graduates are well-equipped to fill gaps in critical professions. For example, in healthcare education, schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, and other related fields often receive federal and state funds to subsidize the high costs of tuition for students. However, this raises an ethical dilemma, as many healthcare graduates may not feel an obligation to the society that supported their education through taxpayer funding.

Ethical Responsibility to Repay Taxpayer Support

Healthcare professionals who received state or federal funding for their education have an ethical responsibility to repay the taxpayers by addressing the needs of the medically underserved. Without public funding, many of these professionals might not have had the opportunity to pursue their education. Demonstrating gratitude and appreciation for the support received during their studies is essential. Additionally, caring for the poor and underserved is a fundamental responsibility of healthcare practitioners.

According to the American Medical Association (AMA), which provides scholarships to medical students, physicians have an obligation to offer quality care to the indigent (Huang, 2011). This responsibility should be a routine part of their overall service. Therefore, students pursuing healthcare professions should develop a keen interest in caring for the underserved and take advantage of opportunities in medical institutions to learn how to provide such care.

Growing Need for Care for the Underserved

The number of medically underserved individuals in the U.S. has been increasing significantly. In 2009, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that about 50.7 million Americans lacked health insurance. These individuals are less likely to seek preventive measures or screenings and often experience poorer treatment outcomes, especially for chronic diseases. Currently, some physicians care for the underserved by working full-time in public health systems and community health centers.

Policy Solutions

To ensure healthcare students who receive grants and scholarships are committed to caring for the underserved, policies should be enacted. One effective policy is the implementation of conditional scholarships, which require medical students to commit to serving underserved communities for a specified period after graduation. Research indicates that these conditional scholarships are effective in ensuring an adequate supply of physicians in medically underserved areas and address ethical concerns (Eyal & Bärnighausen, 2012).


It is not unethical for healthcare providers who received government-funded grants and scholarships to repay taxpayers by meeting the needs of the medically underserved. In fact, it aligns with their professional responsibilities and ethical obligations. Policies that require a commitment to serving underserved areas can help ensure that healthcare professionals fulfill this duty.


Eyal, N., & Bärnighausen, T. (2012). Precommitting to serve the underserved. The American Journal of Bioethics, 12(5), 23-34. doi: 10.1080/15265161.2012.665134

Huang, W. Y. (2011). Learning to Care for the Underserved—Making the Most of Opportunities in Medical School. Virtual Mentor, 13(8), 544.

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