“How are you different from other med schools?” “We’re bigger. They admit about 100 students a year. We take in almost 1000 at $250K a pop.”
“These are all future doctors?” “By and large. Our graduates score USMLEs as good as stateside schools. We weed out the misfits early.”
$250K each for a beach blanket bingo medic? Could she be for real? I write “Do think I’m an idiot?” She signs “Yes” or possibly “squirrel.”
We sit in a grungy termite burrow of offices. “Where does the money go?” “Running a medical school is expensive. We break even on tuition.”
She sees my incomprehension and writes it down. “Income from dorm and meal plans lets us claim for-profit educational institution status.”
They’re losing money with seven to one applicants lining up down the street. Is this the worst-managed for-profit medical school in history?
“The owners have tried to unload the school for years. Buyers take one look at our books and head for the door.” Why is she telling me this?
I look at her name plate. It reads “Mary M. Kwitecontrari, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid.” Beneath in small letters “Notary Public.”
The wall behind her displays diplomas from trade schools and personal growth institutes grouped around a photo of her with Ronald Reagan.
Alarm bells go off in my head. I can’t tell you how often I meet charlatans who photoshop themselves into pictures with our 40th president.
Right there is the source of their fiscal failings. A school business plan based on Reagan’s trickledown economics is destined to leak cash!
Any medical practitioner knows you don’t want things to trickle down. Drip yes. Trickle no. Mary presses a button and the alarm bells stop.
She sees me staring at her photo and signs “Everyone here has their own picture with Ronald Reagan.” Can I trust anything Mary isn’t saying?
She signs “The owners hired a gang of former accountants as new management. Their first step to fiscal health was to fire older employees.”
I write “They can do that?” “Well, no. But by a funny coincidence most of the positions eliminated were held by employees over 55.” “Most?”
“If you’re related to an owner you’re safe. Firing people is the usual fix of new managerial incompetents to show quick operating results.”
I write “You’re over 55. The school is about to be sold. You see writing on the wall.” “I’m 45 and we had the graffiti steamed off.” Oops.
One sheet remains on my pad. Without paper I will be forced to rely on my imprecise ASL phone app. My last question better be a good one.
I write “Do you have any more paper?” “No. We used up our budget in March. We just got the annual memo telling us stop spending until fall.”
“How can you run out of money?” “A temporary condition. It happens to us every year until the August tuition deposits arrive. No biggie.”
There’s less here than meets the eye. And now my pad is out of paper. On the cardboard backing I write “I’m here looking for Regi Granger.”
(The Twitter Mystery continues daily at @Twitstery)