How Long Does Med School Need to Take?

So much of the discussion of health care in America, at least lately, centers around insurance, and how to make the medical industry more efficient and cost-effective. But another potential reform holds a lot of promise as well.

Should we be trying to get doctors thorough medical school faster? According to a piece at NPR:

Some doctors in the state of California will soon be able to practice after three years of medical school instead of the traditional four. The American Medical Association is providing seed money for the effort in the form of a $1 million, five-year grant to the University of California at Davis.

The curriculum cuts out summer vacations, electives and the residency search. It’s designed to get primary care physicians into the field faster, says Dr. Tonya Fancher, director of the program, called Accelerated Competency-based Education in Primary Care.

YoungDoctor

The reason for this is to get doctors out in the field sooner, and to produce more primary care physicians, which America certainly needs.

The problem, according to the article, is that many medical students start off with the goal of becoming primary care physicians but “then end up choosing specialties that deliver higher salaries and shorter hours.”

The appeal of higher salaries and shorter hours are understandable, in any profession, but part of the reason this has particular attraction for doctors is familiar: medical school debt.

The average doctor today graduates from medical school $166,750 in debt.

The program, because it’s faster and requires fewer classes, can allow students to avoid some $60,000 worth of that debt.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer