Three Years of Medical School - Is it Enough?

March 3, 2014

Some medical schools are offering three-year medical school programs. Do you think that provides physicians with adequate training?

Some medical schools are considering offering three-year programs, and some are already doing so. They include NYU (which launched its program in September) and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock (which graduated its first three-year class in 2013), according to The Washington Post.

Proponents of the programs point to lower student debt and faster physician turn out (which could help combat the physician shortage and ensure patient access as more gain insurance due to Affordable Care Act initiatives). Others claim that the fourth year of medicine is avoidable because much of it is focused on electives and residency applications, according to The Post.

Still, three-year programs aren't without their critics.

"Given the growing complexity of medicine, it seems counterproductive to compress the curriculum into [three] years, reducing both preclinical and clinical experiences," Stanley Goldfarb, M.D., associate dean for curriculum at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, and Gail Morrison, M.D., professor of medicine and vice dean at the Perelman School of Medicine, wrote in an essay appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine. "The limited opportunity for students to participate meaningfully in patient care during their undergraduate careers is the problem that needs correction; the solution is not to rush students into residency after allowing them even less involvement with patients."

What do you think? Is the fourth year of medical school crucial for up-and-coming physicians? Why or why not? 

Share your thoughts in the comments section below.