Friday, October 31, 2014 Headlines & Global News

Medical Students Could Soon 'Fast Track' Education in California

By Rebekah Marcarelli r.marcarelli@hngn.com | Aug 07, 2014 04:57 PM EDT

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Do outpatient urology programs increase death risk? (Photo : Getty Images)

Select doctors living in the state of California could soon be allowed to practice after only three years of medical school, instead of the standard four.

The accelerated curriculum would allow some students to save $60,000 on their educations, NPR reported.

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"I thought, 'Oh man, you want me to put the intensity and stress that is medical school in four years, you want me to condense it down to three years. I'm not sure about that," student Ngabo Nzigira, who is in his sixth week of medical school and is already interacting with patients, told NPR.

The curriculum also eliminates "summer vacations, electives and the residency search" in hopes of getting primary care physicians out into the field as soon as possible.

"There's a huge problem, a huge shortage of primary care physicians," Doctor Tonya Fancher, director of the program, called Accelerated Competency-based Education in Primary Care, told NPR.

The long and grueling medical programs could also be crushing students' passion.

"Students come into medical school and they're passionate about patients, passionate about primary care, and then that wanes over time," Fancher said. "Part of it is the debt that they accrue, and part of it is the models of primary care that they're exposed to."

The curriculum will be available at UC Davis; Georgia, Texas, and New York. A report published in the journal JAMA suggests students can have a quicker and more efficient education without compromising quality of care.

Angela Woodard doesn't believe a faster education will have much of an effect on quality of care.

"There's already consequences on quality of care. So them going to school for a shorter time is not going to make it any worse," she told NPR.

Patient Joe King also agrees with the track "as long as they maintain the same criteria of standards that primary care doctors have to meet."

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