About six years ago I wrote about the merits of a 3-year medical degree. This involves medical students essentially skipping the rotation that occurs in their fourth year of medical school and beginning residency training. At the time, there were only three universities in the United States and Canada that offered a program that allowed doctors to begin residency after only three years of medical school. Now there are about a dozen according to Robert Grossman and Steven Abramson, writing in the Wall Street Journal. Nearly one-third of medical schools have (or are) considering ways to speed up medical training programs. Is probably a good idea.
The programs I reviewed six years ago were basically students agreeing to go into primacy care in return for a year less schooling and the associated debts that go along with paying tuition and being out of the workforce one extra year. There’s another potential benefit (depending on your point of view). Students who agreed to this program had to declare the desire to go into primary care early on. I’ve been told by people who attended medical school that many students come in with the goal of working in primary care. But the pressure to abandon primary care for a more highly paid specialty begins soon — and students’ own professors are the ones who introduce the idea. Often it’s a financial decision because of a student debt and the number of years out of the workforce medical school entails. Maybe more people would go to medical school — and go into primary care — if they didn’t have to spend as long in school and take on as much debt.