Medical school leaders have debated shortening the duration of their M.D. programs, but medical students, alumni and faculty at Ohio State University seem pretty content with four years.
In a recent OSU College of Medicine survey, 64% of those polled said they believe the length of most medical school programs should remain four years, while only 24% said they should be shortened to three years. Just 8% said the current curriculum is too short and needs to be increased to five years.
Alumni composed over 70% of the 793 survey respondents, followed by faculty, former residents and current students or residents. The survey responses are a part of the college's “State of Medical Education” study, which was completed in September 2014. The survey probed respondent opinions on the appropriate length of medical school, curriculum priorities and the appropriate time for milestones like caring for patients.
Most respondents said they believe programs should continue to last four years, but 35% said they think the same skills could be taught in only three. The notion that some students may be able to absorb just as much information in less time has spurred interest in three-year programs, Dr. Darrel Kirch, president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges, said in a recent Q&A with Modern Healthcare.
“The notion that everybody learns at the same rate doesn't fit reality,” Kirch said.
Kirch noted that a small group of schools are allowing first-year medical students interested in pediatrics to initiate pediatric residency training while still in school. “I think this is the future,” he said.
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