A 3-year M.D.?

Last week’s New England Journal of Medicine had some interesting perspectives on undergraduate medical education.  As you may know, some schools have implemented and others are looking at developing 3-year MD programs which would have the effects of reducing accumulated debt and accelerating entry into the productive healthcare workforce.  Pro and con viewpoints were represented.  I would encourage all of you to read these perspectives which may be found HERE.

Dr. Joe Fantone, our Senior Associate Dean for Education, provides the following comments on the concept of a 3-year medical school:

As noted shortening the time from high school graduation to medical school graduation has been done with 6 and 7 year programs – mostly shortening the undergrad experience. UF-COM supports a seven year program that shortens undergraduate to three years.

While some very capable students with focused goals or an identified specialty at the beginning of medical school could complete the competencies required for graduation and enter residency in three years there are several challenges for the majority of students:

  • new topics, skills and competencies are expected of graduates compared to even 10 years ago,
  • students frequently require elective time  for career determination purposes,
  • students frequently engage in extracurricular activities (e.g. research, community service, international service) as part of their personal and professional development
  • fixed start to  residency training (June),
  • residencies requiring more advanced skill sets upon entry due to duty hour restrictions and complexity of care issues
  • increasing amount of time committed to residency interviewing
  • States recognize the MD degree as a generalist degree with a broad set of competencies

While some students can master the competencies in a shorter period of time the majority of students find medical school very stressful and many schools are looking at ways to decompress curriculum.

As medical school admissions offices are looking to increase the diversity of their classes more “non-traditional” students with varied backgrounds, education and life experiences are being recruited into medicine.