Medical Schools—Including One in Texas—Eliminate a Year of Training

The chance to finish medical school early is attracting increased attention from students, many of whom are burdened with six-figure education loans, according to Kaiser Health News.

To meet that need, some schools are carving off the final year of training. Three-year programs are a way to produce physicians—especially primary-care doctors—faster, as the new healthcare law funnels millions of previously uninsured patients into the medical system.

In Texas, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock graduated its first three-year class in 2013; its nine students are training in family medicine. Fifteen more students started this fall, KHN reports.

The plan does have detractors as well., some of whom note that the three-year track was offered by a few dozen medical schools in the late 1970s, but was abandoned because of student burnout from trying to cram too much into those three years.


Posted in Education, News.
  • Impossible. I am a podiatrist and my undergraduate medical degree took 4 years to complete. In my opinion, in the future, many primary care care physicians will be called upon to provide more care for more patients with more complex health problems useing fewer resources. Insurance companies will see to this so that they and Wall Street can keep more of the premium dollars collected. In reality, they should add an additional year of training not the other way around. Who benifits by being less trained? Certainly not the patients. Gee, I wish my doctor had less training, don’t you? Pretty soon the Physician Assistants (PA) will add another year making their training 3 years, they will get paid half what a physician earns, and you won’t be able to tell one from another. Here is a solid Rx for you to follow: Lose Weight; Eat Healthy; Exercise regularly; Stop excess alcohol consumption and cut tobacco use entirely; Buckle up; Marry someone whose parents and grandparents are long lived; DONT GET SICK, and buy plenty of insurance company stock.

    • ajsqueen

      Newsflash….that has already happened. Many PA schools have the same pre-requisite requirements as med school with the MCAT “optional” and have a 3-year post bachelor curriculum. I have been a PA for over 20 years, and guess what….I make more $$ than many of my physician colleagues. Do I know my place? Of course. I’ve never pretended to be a physician. But after 12 years as an ICU RN, and 20+ years as a PA-C with a doctorate, I’ve earned it. Guess what else….the nurses, seasoned hospitalists, and ED docs trust ME far more than many of my physician colleagues- the braindead FMG’s.

  • Kurt Killebrew

    I think the 3 year program is fantastic. Its the same courses without the summers off, its not less training
    More programs like this should be offered. If more Med schools stateside would accept seniors, have the last year under grad as the first year med then that would be better as well. OR accept Juniors who have completed the mandatory prerequisites. The biggest detractor I hear from prospective med students is the 8 years it takes here, when 6 years is quite possible.
    IF we did that , there would be no need of PA’s or Nurse Practitioners

    • Jean Sala-Smith, MSN, CNM

      Some things just never change! I just wonder when the brain washing starts in medical school? Is it in the beginning or is it just acquired. I guess along with no need for PA’s or Nurse Practitioners, they will also agree to work for the peanuts that we get compared to physicians. From a patient’s perspective, do you want a very interventive birth with a 34% cesarean section rate and high medical care costs with physicians or a 3-10% rate along with excellent outcomes for moms and babies with a CNM for substantially less.? It wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to do the math here!

      • Ivy McKinney

        Couldn’t agree more. When does the brainwashing start? Sometimes the patient seeks medical care for a brbain tumor but most of the time patients seek treatment for sore throats, colds and other things Nurse Practitioners have been trained to do. And guess what? Physicians refer patients with brain tumors same as Nurse Practitioners do. Get off your high horse. Patients will see Nurse Practitioners or Family Physicians because they choose to. Let’s let the patient make the choice and stop pontificating ad nauseum.

  • Anjana Dalal, FNP-BC

    As a nurse practitioner, I do not believe physicians and PAs and NPs should be competing against one another. We all provide great services and should continue to work collaboratively and collectively as a team with the best interest of the patient in mind. Many other countries produce fine physicians with 6 years of medical training. They usually go straight from the equivalent of high school here in the States, having to pass a rigorous entry exam. If we did things that way in the States, I would be a physician. Having been an NP for 5 years now, I love my profession and do not see myself getting into major debt, going through rigorous training, and then following it up with a residency and possibly fellowship. At that rate, I will be 50 before I start practicing…It would be wonderful if we could find a way to do a 6 year program straight from high school, decrease student loan burden, and think about creative options such as NP to MD bridge programs only so that practice is not limited (the variance from state to state is quite amazing when you compare).

  • The idea of shortening the medical training is not a good one. There is a tremendous amount of information for a medical student to learn. It was already stressful trying to get it all in four years. There were a few expedited programs available when I went through and the students all suffered high burnout. They also expressed feelings of insecurity. There are shorter programs. They are called PA programs and NP programs. They are strong programs and they do a good job of preparing Pa’s and NP’s. I think there should be more of those to help expand the healthcare provider distribution. I feel that there should also be more extended M.D. training however, so that M.D.’s are adequately trained to handle the questions and issues that the PA or NP may not have the expertise to handle. Certainly for primary care providers, who are being called upon to do more and more everyday, shortchanging the educational process will not produce competent care providers or high quality care. I agree that NP to MD bridge programs should be a viable option, as well.

    • I couldn’t agree with you more. I’m an NP and own a minor emergency clinic. I can treat a lot, but there definitely comes a point when I have to refer to a higher level of care…just as my internist does.

  • Manuel Salmeron MD CPE

    The University of Missouri at Kansas City has had a six year medical school program for decades. The physicians graduating there go to residencies anywhere from Ivy League to West Coast schools without problems. I know taught many of them while on the Kansas side of Kansas City and they were consistently good performers.

    PAs, NPs and other providers have a place in the medical environment in this country. The curricula are different and so is what each knows. There is no “high horse” in Medicine, except for those who want the differences to go away. One thing is for sure, the smart ones will thrive and the rest will complain. And patients know the difference.

  • Michael Jacobs RN FNP DNP

    WOW-first the MD’s hated DO’s. In 1960’s the DO’s had no surgical services, no admission rights. Now the MD’s hate foreign medical school graduates who do as little as 2 years of medical school. Now everyone hates the NP and PA. When did this become a hating profession. As for my place in the medical environment I dare one of you to put me in my place. All of you have lost your compassion, common sense. The 3 year medical school is fine but note that the motivation is money and not service.