Viewpoint: Student debt, physician shortages fueling three-year medical school program growth

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Interest in accelerated three-year medical school programs is on the rise amid mounting student loans and physician shortages, a physician argues in an opinion piece published on the Association of American Medical Colleges website.

Joan Cangiarella, MD, associate dean for education, faculty and academic affairs at New York City-based NYU Grossman School of Medicine and director of the school's accelerated three-year MD pathway, cited data from the Consortium of Accelerated Medical Pathway Programs to illustrate the rise.

She said the U.S. had eight accelerated medical education programs in 2014, and the consortium launched that same year with a Josiah Macy Foundation grant. Now, the consortium counts 30 members that offer an accelerated program or plan to, according to Dr. Cangiarella.

"For many, a key driver is mounting student loans. Among medical school grads with education debt, the median sum was $200,000 in 2019 — up from $160,000 in 2009, according to AAMC data," she wrote. "Calculating tuition savings and an extra year of salary, three-year students could reap a lifetime benefit of around $250,000. Importantly, reduced costs can make medical school more accessible to lower-income students and help increase the diversity of our workforce."

Dr. Cangiarella said physician shortages are a key driver, too, with several three-year programs launching to help address the need.

Read her full article here.

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