3 year MD programs

Do you expect to see more U.S. schools offering this option in the (near) future? Seems very reasonable especially for those of us interested in primary care.



So the solution to rising costs in med school tuition is to condense the education??? Then wouldn’t the solution to soaring gas prices be to install smaller gas tanks?

I also take a bit of issue with the idea that primary care requires less education.


I was accepted to a school (Texas Tech Lubbock) who has such a program (called FMAT, family medicine accelerated track).

This program makes a lot of sens in my opinion because if you know that you want to be a family doctor, why waste time during clinical rotations. So they take away one year of clinical rotation. You save 1 year of tuition and they pay for another year, so the total cost is cut by 50%.

It is not so much that family doctor requires less education, but because they are so badly needed, they provide incentives. Money and time are great. And this way, you don’t go waste time doing something that you know you don’t want to do.

Thanks for posting this link. It’s an interesting alternative from a top notch university. It looks like they’re also using the summers between years to build up experience in the same department. I can see the advantages to this kind of curriculum. If you already know what specialty you want to go into, why take 2 years (MS3 and MS4) to go through all of the rotations. If you look at the proposed curriculum, the first and second years are pretty much the same, so I don’t see any reduction in knowledge.

  • redo-it-all Said:
This program makes a lot of sens in my opinion because if you know that you want to be a family doctor, why waste time during clinical rotations.

I LOVE this idea especially now that I'm open to clinical fields like FM.

After reading Redo’s comment. Now I can see that this may actually solve a need without sacrificing quality.

Now, what if schools decided to specialize different specialties with shortened programs? Heck, if it can be done with FM why can’t it be done with say…peds?

Hi Julio

In fact at NYU the 3 yr track is available for any specialty But choice has to be declared in advance (i think they actually secure residency spots for those in the 3 yr track). Isn’t this great!

As of 3 yr programs for primary physicians I’ve read that many schools have expressed interest but I would assume that implementation would take at least several years .

what goes around comes around.

When my brother started medical school in 1976, he was in the last class of the last 3 year program in the USA. Started in June, went straight thru for 3 years.

I wonder if we will eventually go to a shorter European Model where you have basically a combined 6 year BA/MD. British Commonwealth I think get an MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery) degree in the end

Is 4th year so unimportant? I don’t know. This is best answered by those who’ve gone through the gauntlet. However I don’t buy the rationale that this is about cost savings because it goes flat. I think the same thing when I see a school talk about focusing on primary care and the underserved and then charging their students >$75k/year. The costs of a medical education, really any education, has continued to climb higher and higher without rhyme nor reason for it…and the solution is to shorter it? Just doesn’t compute. Time is money however cramming more into the schedule doesn’t seem like a good idea.

Just a speculation on my part…

So 20 year olds who are sick and tied of never ending schooling and lack of money or may be unexpected first baby would sign up for a shorter track. Get out, work for a year or two, realize that the system took advantage of them (i.e. they are still working tones, deal with the insurance companies, but being paid half of what others are making in medicine), then they search the net, find the “old premed” website and decide that somehow they need to go back to school and look more closely into other choices in medicine as now they are old and wise (i.e. 29 year olds) and starting to wonder what could have been if they chose fourth year.

Putting blinder on the first year med-students would not solve the crises of family medicine. It is a demand and supply problem; no money, no demand. Saving a year ($150k of earnings) and $26k (education cost in the case of TX university) would not make a big difference for a 20 year old who has next 20 to 30 years of earnings in front of them.

I would prefer an accelerated BS/MD program, and not an shortened MD program.

The problem with a 3 curriculum is that you have to KNOW what you want to go in to. I believe this is a mistake. You don’t know what you are passionate about until you have exposure, and a 3 year program is robbing you of that exposure.

This can lead to even more physicians that are unhappy with their careers and further issues tomorrow. It’s another “kick the can down the road” solution. Another band-aid.

I don’t find that nontrads “suffer” from “career disatisfaction” nearly as much as younger students. Sure, I’ve decided to change my path away from path (pun intended, LOL) to something clinical, but most nontrads seem to know going in the kind of Doc they want to be, and stick with that choice.

As for the “satisfaction” issue, when you have an entitled generation of people entering the work force in ANY field, expect to hear a LOT of whinning and complaining about “working conditions” which is exactly what’s happening. IMHO, the real issuse is no real world work experience before matriculation, in combination with an entitled attitude that contributes so much to career disatisfaction among young doctors, especially young female doctors.

I also think many folks going to med school expect to have careers like their Physician parents and that’s simply unrealistic in today’s time. Medicine as it’s practiced today, is significantly different than it was years before.

Finally, I don’t think the decrease in Doctor compensation is “going over” real well either and I’m okay with weeding out greedy folks away from medicine since I think they are the ones that got us in the mess we see today anyway!

I’m with Doc Gray on this. It just doesn’t make sense to limit your exposure in the 3rd and 4th years. People change their minds…a LOT…after they start their clinical rotations. Beyond just the exposure aspect, every minute you spend on clinical rotations is an opportunity to learn while someone else “has your back.” It’s so important to build that knowledge base before you’re thrown into the river.

Not to mention that FM residency includes rotations in surgery, OB, GYN, peds, ER, ICU just in the first year. Then you get to urology, derm, neurology, more OB, more surgery, cardiology, ortho, ophtho, endo, ENT…you get the picture.

Why anybody would think this is a good FM recruitment strategy is unfathomable. I would think twice about ranking a resident candidate from a 3-yr program. If he/she doesn’t already know how to interpret ventilator settings, start an insulin regimen, deliver an uncomplicated pregnancy or suture a deep laceration, (things I didn’t learn until fourth year) it is going to be an excrutiating intern year for all involved. There are better ideas on the table to attract students to primary care. This one needs to go away!

I think an important addendum to this thread is the fact that Duke’s MD program is for all intensive purposes, a 3 year MD program ( 1 year for research). Yet, they graduate some of the top med students in the country.

I also didn’t “get” that 3 year programs where shorter time wise, just that the program is compacted into 3 calender years.