so why the cramming?

Ok - I hope this post doesn’t sound too naiive or clueless…but after reading all the interesting medical student diaries online…I can’t help wondering why medical school is planned this way. Why have all this information crammed into such a short period of time? In Europe and other countries, some medical programs last for as long as 6 or 7 years. I have some friends who went to such programs, and their anatomy course for example lasts a good two years. They study limbs for two months for example…I’m not sure about the details though.
So as medical students, what do you feel is the benefit of this system - medical school in 4 years. A lot of you have stated that the amount of material is way too much than is humanely possible to cover. So how does it help?

Well, I think mosts European programs cover the premed sciences during those 6 years. They do organic, biochem, and all that.
I think Americans get more of the physics, math, and any bio that’s not medically-related, because we take all those pre-reqs. My Spanish and Danish doctor friends thought I was crazy when I told them I had to take physics. They just don’t have to do that. On the other hand they are getting way more of that stuff in high school.
But then, since they do have to specialize earlier, maybe it’s harder to change direction later.

In those countries where 6 to 8 years is the norm, they typically begin medical schools straight out of their highschool equivolent. So, they end up graduating close to the same age as our med school graduates. In that context, do you honestly believe that the majority of 18-19 y/o’s “know” what they want to be yet? I would proffer that they do not even know themselves yet let alone have the capacity to make such a monumental commitment. I would be very curious to see data on career & life satisfaction & compare it to similar data published by the AMA. It’s pure conjecture, but I would hazard to guess that there is an even greater degree of dissatisfaction. Of course, it would not be comparing apples to apples since these countries healthcare paradigms so vastly differ from our own.

I agree with the other posters, but also want to say that I believe the clinical part of medical school is much more important than the preclinical. Clinics is where you learn the vast majority of stuff that you’re going to use in practice. So, why drag out preclinicals? It is tough to learn all this, but they actually give us a lot more than we really need to know to be good doctors.
Here at Baylor, we do preclinicals in only 1.5 years, so we have more time for electives, studying for boards, research, vacation, etc during clinicals. It’s tough, but do-able, and I’ll be glad to be out of the classroom ASAP!
If I’m wrong about clinicals being more important, someone please tell me so I can get on the ball before I’m done! Lol.

I don’t think you could really compare data on life hapiness from one country to another. 19 y/o’s in the US are different from 19 y/o’s overseas. Maybe kids in Europe ARE more certain about their interests at a younger age. Or maybe not, I don’t know. Also, the weight that would be given to career as a component of life satisfaction would be different from one culture to another. Obviously, here in the US it’s a big part of the equation, but that’s not equally true everywhere.
There are lots of ways to get to be a doctor. I think that’s good, because then people can compare and learn from each other. (I think this interests me because I want to do international medicine one day, but anyway.)

Hi there,
When you get to residency and start having to take your inservice exams each year, you may start to appreciate your pre-clinical stuff a bit more. ABSITE (The American Board of Surgery In-Training Exam) is almost totally pre-clinical information and thank God, I didn’t do a “data dump” after first and second year. Also, most of your “pimp” questions during third year are going to be pre-clinical science too. The bottom line: It’s all important.

In some European countries, kids have to started narrowing their course choices at around age 16, unlike in the US where you keep studying a wide range subject matter into college. The extreme of this is the UK I guess.
Laramisa (in Europe)


So as medical students, what do you feel is the benefit of this system - medical school in 4 years. A lot of you have stated that the amount of material is way too much than is humanely possible to cover. So how does it help?

I plan to take med school in 5 years because of family obligations. I personally dont see how anyone with a family does it in 4 years.