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Fast Track Through Med School


To meet the growing need for primary care physicians, medical schools are offering shortened, three-year programs.


Enrollment in medical schools may be on target to reach 30% growth by 2016, but some schools are taking it upon themselves to help meet the demand for the expected physician shortage with a new fast-track through medical school, according to an article on a.

The three-year programs — instead of the usual four years — would have the dual effect of filling the physician shortage and offsetting rising student debts.

The programs are geared toward primary care students, which is fitting since half of the expected 90,000-plus physician shortage in 20200 are expected to be primary care doctors. Also, a less expensive, shortened program makes sense considering primary care doctors make less.


According to , the programs are condensed by eliminating breaks and electives. Also, primary care students in the shortened program begin clerkship training in their second year.

Four schools have recently initiated or are in the process of developing three-year programs:

Mercer University School of Medicine

Program begins in June 2012

Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Program began in 2007

Launching a three-year track for certified physician assistants to become doctors

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine

Program begin in 2011 with nine students

Louisiana State University School of Medicine

Program is expected to start in either 2013 or 2014

Schools are also applying for federal grants to expand their three-year models to more campuses.

While there is some concern that with the shortened program students might not be ready for clerkships in only their second year, three-year programs aren’t anything new. For instance, schools offered three-year programs during World War II.

Read more: Med School on the Fast Track: A 3-Year Degree

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