Some medical schools are offering an accelerated three-year program, according to a report from Kaiser Health News.
Sandra G. Boodman discusses the implications of shorter medical school training, focusing on student and medical school administrator perspectives.
According to the report, shortening medical school can be seen as a way to produce physicians faster, which is important with the influx of previously uninsured patients into the medical system. Furthermore, huge student loans are an incentive for accelerated training programs, reducing debt for students.
To date, fewer than 12 medical schools are offering or actively considering three-year programs, which involve elimination of electives, attendance at summer classes, and a provisional guarantee of residency. Some note that the fourth year plays a crucial role in preparing doctors for residency and subsequent practice. Others note that three-year programs were offered in the late 1970s but failed, mainly due to student burnout.
Although supporters of three-year programs insist that contemporary medical school programs are different, medicine is more complex than in the 1970s. However, satisfaction is high for students enrolled in three-year programs, with equivalent scores on licensing exams and no reports of burnout.
“NYU’s accelerated program is best suited for highly qualified students who are typically older, more mature, and certain of their choice of specialty,” said Steven B. Abramson, M.D., vice dean of New York University’s medical school, according to the Kaiser Health News article.