The three-year accelerated family medicine program is a fairly new development in medical education.
Some medical school administrators and policymakers see a three-year accelerated family medicine program as a way to produce physicians, particularly primary-care doctors, faster as the new healthcare law funnels millions of previously uninsured patients into the medical system.
The path to becoming a doctor, or pursuing any highly skilled medical degree or program, can be long and arduous.
Traditional programs last four years before you begin your first residency placement at a hospital. Non-traditional medical school programs with accelerated programs are trending and becoming more popular. Enrollment is increasing, and more and more prospective medical students are considering this accelerated program as a better option for them as they search for the best medical school fit.
In this article, we will discuss the accelerated family medicine program, the schools that offer this program, and the benefits of the accelerated family medicine program.
What Are Accelerated Family Medicine Programs
The accelerated family medicine program is an innovative 3-year accelerated medical school curriculum that culminates into an M.D. degree and leads to standard 3-year family medicine.
Also, the accelerated family medicine programs satisfy the demand for shorter medical school programs.
They save the student a year of tuition and living expenses (as well as a year with no income), and the student is often guaranteed a spot in a specialized residency.
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The education and training to become a doctor can often take up to a decade, and so taking a year off of this process is very alluring to some students.
Schools That Offer Accelerated Family Medicine Programs
At present, there are very few opportunities to pursue an accelerated family medicine program. Most schools offer primary care or family medicine, and some carry an obligation to practice within the state.
NEW YORK UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE
The NYU School of Medicine Three Year Pathway program allows students to tailor their training through the development of individualized pathways in 20 programs.
Students must choose their residency of interest before applying to the accelerated family medicine program.
The Three-Year accelerated family medicine program starts six weeks before the Four-Year Pathway program, and students work in a summer fellowship between their first and second year. Students can transfer to the Four-Year MD pathway, if necessary, due to residency change or otherwise.
TEXAS TECH UNIVERSITY HEALTH SCIENCES CENTER
The accelerated family medicine program at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) is a 3-year curriculum that leads to the MD degree and links program graduates to family medicine residency in one of TTUHSC’s programs in Lubbock, Amarillo, or the Permian Basin.
FMAT’s goal is to prepare primary care physicians more efficiently at a lower cost. This program culminates in the M.D. degree and leads to a standard three-year family medicine residency at one of three Texas Tech programs, in Lubbock, Amarillo, or the Permian Basin.
FMAT is limited to 16 students per year in each class. Students may apply for the FMAT program when they apply for admission or during the fall semester of the MS1 year. Tech School of Medicine provides scholarship support to FMAT students for at least one year of medical school. Students may choose to return to the regular four-year program at any time. However, any FMAT scholarship support will revert to loan status and must be repaid.
MERCER UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE (MUSM)
Memorial Medicine Family Medicine Residency teamed up with Mercer University School of Medicine (MUSM) to institute an innovative 3-year accelerated family medicine program in 2012.
This program is only for students interested in practicing Family Medicine who have a strong desire to remain in Georgia. Students apply during the Spring of Year 1 and may opt to return to the four-year program at any time.
The curriculum is very similar to their four-year MD program, but is compressed into 131 weeks of instructional time and offers more educational contact opportunities between students and the Family Medicine faculty.
PENN STATE COLLEGE OF MEDICINE
Penn State launched a 3-year accelerated family medicine program (FM-APPS) in 2014. The program has since expanded to include Emergency Medicine, Internal Medicine, Neurosurgery, and Orthopedics, with plans for other specialties.
The three-year MD Accelerated Pathways provide students the opportunity to complete medical school in three years with direct progression into one of Penn State’s residency programs, pending successful completion of their medical school training.
Upon meeting the academic and professional standards for graduation from medical school, students are ranked to match into a Penn State Health residency program through the National Resident Matching Program.
Should students choose to rank at Penn State, they would match into a position at Penn State College of Medicine for residency.
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Why Consider Accelerated Family Medicine Programs
Here are reasons why you should consider an accelerated family medicine program.
1. You will save a year
The first reason to consider an accelerated family medicine program is obvious. You will save yourself a year of study.
You can save yourself time, three-year medical schools deliver the same information in significantly less time, in addition to evaluating how and what works best for students, these programs are also designed to help students make the most of their time by using intensives, especially during the summer. The ability to work continuously not only saves time but also provides momentum.
2. You save money
High tuition costs can be crippling for medical school graduates. In shaving off a year, three-year accelerated family medicine programs help students also shave off tuition costs, while positioning themselves to start earning a year earlier. Additionally, residency acceptance is included in some of these programs, meaning students also save on travel and applications.
Three-year programs could reduce the lifetime student debt burden and provide an opportunity for an additional year of productive clinical practice. For the 2012–2013 academic year, the mean education debt for graduating medical students in the United States was over $170,000. A three-year program could thus reduce a student’s debt burden by tens of thousands of dollars.
3. You will benefit from the innovative nature of these programs.
It’s not surprising that three-year programs being quickly developed and implemented are offering the best innovations and cutting-edge learning experiences for their enrolled students. Also, it seems like this new format is inspiring not only medical students but also getting professors and teachers in the medical field jazzed to try new things. A psyched teacher or professor can be the most inspiring and motivating part of any learning experience!
4. Enter the workforce sooner
Shaving off a year of medical school, obviously, also means you’ll be able to enter the workforce sooner. This is much needed as there is currently a physician shortage in certain sectors of the medical field.
A recent article in Forbes demonstrates the increased need for physicians in the US: the number of Americans age 65 or older is expected to double over the next 40 years. A report from the American Association of Medical Colleges predicts a dearth of 120,000 physicians by 2030.
Without adequate physicians, patients may experience long wait times, receive delayed medical attention, and be limited to care from non-physician providers. A three-year program will get you there faster.
5. Your transition to residency may be smoother.
Some of the three-year accelerated family medicine programs include residency acceptances. This makes the last year of medical school when students are applying for residency programs much less stressful.
Plus, it also makes for a smoother intern year since new residents are already familiar with the hospital and its people and programs. This is one of the perks of pursuing your medical degree in three years instead of four.
You’ll know in advance where your residency will be; you’ll already be working towards your specialty, and you will save time and energy because you won’t have to apply for residencies and go through the interview process since you will already have secured a spot in a program.
6. It is an excellent pathway for other healthcare providers.
If you are already working in the healthcare field, but always wanted to become a physician, an accelerated three-year accelerated family medicine program might be the best pathway to make this transition.
Also, accelerated family medicine and internal medicine programs have been shown to reduce training time without degradation of performance. If you already work in a hospital setting, you’ll have an advantage compared to students fresh from undergrad. You will know the ins and outs of the place.
And, most of all, you won’t be intimidated by all the jargon and can put your knowledge and skills to use immediately.
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7. It may be an easier path to admissions.
There are no guarantees in any admissions process it’s lengthy and always a gamble. But, you might consider how applying to an accelerated family medicine program might be an easier path to admissions.
The applicant pool, generally, will be smaller and there are fewer programs to choose from. Knowing what you want, as far as a specialty, will give you a competitive edge in the application process.
- What is the Purpose of an accelerated family medicine program
The accelerated family medicine program aims to increase the number of medical students choosing a career in family medicine, especially in underserved areas, who will provide patient-centered care.
As this is a condensed program, this family medicine degree prepares primary care physicians more efficiently and with less cost.
- Does Penn State have an accelerated medical program?
Penn State’s accelerated MD Program is unique in that its pathways are designed to optimize the UME-GME continuum and allow students who already know their career path to directly progress into one of these specialties: family medicine, emergency medicine, internal medicine, neurology, psychiatry, and radiology.
- Is residency easier than medical school?
Clinical grades are usually based on a curve such that only a small percentage of the class can earn them, meaning you have to outshine your colleagues.
In this regard, medical school is much more stressful than residency. In residency, the pressure to outperform your peers is an order of magnitude lower.
- What is the fastest you can get a medical degree?
Several BS/MD programs can be completed in three years, one year faster than most undergraduate programs.
- How many 3-year medical schools with accelerated family medicine programs are there?
N.Y.U., Texas Tech Health Center, PENN State College Of Medicine, and Mercer University have implemented a 3-year medical school program.
Administrators at the schools claim that the students in these innovative programs will receive the same quality of education as every other medical student.
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