Graduate college in four years. Graduate medical school in four years. Complete a residency program and finally become a doctor. Yes, everybody knows the training required to become a physician is physically, mentally, and financially exhausting. Is it possible to lighten the load for medical students? Three schools believe it is.
N.Y.U., Texas Tech Health Center, and Mercer University have implemented a 3 year medical school program. Administrators at the schools claim that the students in these innovative programs will receive the same quality of education as every other medical student. “We’re confident that our three-year students are going to get the same depth and core knowledge,” said Dr. Steven Abramson of N.Y.U. School of Medicine.
Three-year programs will require students to enter clinical training more quickly and take extra classes in the summer. In addition, great efforts will be made to eliminate redundancies in the medical school curriculum.
Currently, only a handful of students at each of the three campuses are participating in the programs. About ten percent of N.Y.U.’s next incoming class will be in this program. The percentage is smaller at the other two schools. However, Dr. Abramson believes that the 3 year medical school initiative will catch on. “You’re going to see this kind of three-year pathway become very prominent across the country,” said the N.Y.U. professor.
Proponents of the three-year program believe it will improve the field of medicine; most importantly, it will eventually help the shortage of doctors we face in this country. In addition, the decreased time commitment and graduate loans will persuade more medical students to enter primary care. One of the most prominent supporters of this new idea is Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel. The former health adviser to President Obama has stated that the “years of training have been added without evidence that they enhance clinical skills or the quality of care.
However, some experts believe that three-year programs will do more harm than good. They argue it will lead to insufficient training, lack of maturity, and increase levels of stress among medical students.
Whatever side you may be on, it will be interesting to see if other schools start adopting this 3 year medical school curriculum. For a pre-med who desperately wants to save time and money, this might be the solution he or she is looking for.