The best med-school value for N.D.When buying a car or a tractor, as North Dakotans know, the cheapest is not always the best. It’s usually worth spending more to get the most reliable model.
By: Grand Forks Herald, The Jamestown Sun
When buying a car or a tractor, as North Dakotans know, the cheapest is not always the best. It’s usually worth spending more to get the most reliable model.
After all, not only will the repair bills be less over the years, but also the unit will spend less time in the shop; and that means it’ll spend more time in the field or on the road. The machine’s resale value will be higher, too.
Clearly, being “penny wise” can result in a purchase that’s “pound foolish,” if a buyer chooses a cheaper tool that winds up costing more.
And that’s the idea North Dakota lawmakers who are considering the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences’ expansion request should keep in mind.
Option 3 — the choice to construct an entirely new, $124 million building to house the school’s many programs — is the most expensive in the lineup. It’s not quite double the governor’s preferred option, a $68 million plan that would add on to the school’s existing 60-year-old structure. And it’s just over three times the $38.3 million cost of Option 1.
But “in an effort to figure out which alternative was best, the school had an outside firm do a 40-year analysis on all three proposals,” the Williston (N.D.) Herald reported.
“The firm’s work showed that a new building, while it would cost more initially, would actually have the lowest cost over 40 years.
“The findings showed reduced maintenance on a new building as well as additional reimbursement by the federal government on increased research projects.”
That’s the bottom-line conclusion that lawmakers should examine most carefully. And if it holds up, then Option 3 is the smart decision for the state.
Of course, when buying a vehicle (or anything else), the cost over time isn’t the only consideration. For example, if you know you should get the most reliable model, but you don’t have enough money to do so — well, that’s that. You get the model you can afford.
But the beauty and good fortune of North Dakota’s situation is that the state can afford the most-expensive now, least-expensive option over time.
Building a new building would not be an extravagant decision, in other words. It would be a wise decision, one in keeping with North Dakotans’ conception of value, as long as the state has the resources to do the job. And North Dakota does.
Yes, it’s true that Grand Forks would benefit from the construction of the school’s new home. A state-of-the-art facility would draw scientists from far and wide and greatly strengthen UND.
But remember: Eighty percent of the medical students at the school are from North Dakota. Many of them are from North Dakota’s small towns.
More than half of the primary-care physicians in the state graduated from the school, not to mention high numbers of North Dakota’s physical therapists, physician assistants and other allied-health professionals.
In other words, what’s good for the School of Medicine is good for North Dakota — and in very direct ways. When North Dakota’s health care students train in a first-class facility, North Dakota’s cities and towns see first-rate clinicians come home to set up shop.
That’s the promise, and it’s one the School of Medicine and Health Sciences ably fulfills.