Many major news organizations, including The New York Times, have been writing about three year medical school programs at institutions such as New York University, Texas Tech and Mercer. Such programs are ideally suited for very focused and directed students – those who have a crystal clear idea of what specialty they would like to pursue before starting medical school.
In many ways, such programs are similar to accelerated medical programs that allow students to get both their undergraduate and medical degrees in a shorter time than they would by pursuing the two degrees separately. But three year medical school programs have a downside. Students who take accelerated paths to residency must be exceptionally mature and clear about what they want. For many medical students, medical school offers time to explore career options; for these individuals, being forced to choose a specialty in the second year of medical school would be detrimental since they would have less time to consider deeply the specialty that might be the best fit for them.
While a three year pathway would save students time and money and “speed up” the transit of physicians through the pipeline, it might also produce physicians who are not happy with their career choices.