Medical schools, teaching hospitals help drive local economies

The major economic impact comes from jobs created and money spent on capital improvements, a study finds.

By Susan J. Landers — Posted Oct. 27, 2009

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Medical schools and teaching hospitals had an economic impact of more than $512 billion in 2008, according to a report released Oct. 8 by the Assn. of American Medical Colleges.

The 131 accredited medical schools and approximately 400 teaching hospitals employed about 1.86 million full-time workers. Indirect employment -- such as through contracts with food vendors -- brought the total to 3.3 million full-time jobs.

That means one of every 43 wage earners in the U.S. is linked to an AAMC-member institution, according to the report (link).

The $512 billion impact was generated, in part, by money institutions spend on capital improvements and for drugs, medical disposables and other items. The report also factored in spending by employees, independent contractor physicians, medical residents and students, patients (outside the hospital) and visitors who came both to see patients and to attend meetings sponsored by the schools and hospitals.

"U.S. medical schools and teaching hospitals are substantial economic engines in terms of jobs, state tax revenues and economic growth," said AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, MD. "While the recent recession has certainly challenged every sector of the financial system, AAMC-member institutions continue to be strong economic drivers for their communities, their states and the nation."

New York medical schools and hospitals made up the largest share of the total, with $69 billion. Pennsylvania, California, Massachusetts and Texas rounded out the top five states seeing the biggest economic impact.

The report included only AAMC-member schools and teaching hospitals.

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