NYU taking the lead on 3 year MD programs


The N.Y.U. School of Medicine enrolled 16 students (out of a class of 150) in its first three-year M.D. program last summer. The curriculum is identical to that of the rest of the class, except that the fourth year is missing. And the three-year applicants must know what type of physician they wish to become. Unlike students in traditional programs, who study, rotate through various specialties and then decide on one, three-year students must pick a specialty up front, are assigned mentors in that field and given opportunities to go on rounds, observe in the operating room and participate in research…

Three-year students, on the other hand, will be guaranteed residencies at N.Y.U. “They’ll be secure, and they won’t have to worry about matching and interviewing.” He added: “Our approach is about being able to pursue personalized pathways.”


In an article titled “The Drawn Out Medical Degree,” published in the NY Times a few days prior, the author paints a compelling picture for shortening medical education to 3 years. I wrote a piece on this very topic a few months ago, and it makes me so happy to see that there is active discussion in the med ed space. For students who know what kind of doctor they want to be, it absolutely makes sense to get a head start on that, especially if the stress of getting a residency spot is removed. A whole year’s worth of tuition (~$70K at most leading medical schools in the US) and ~$20K of residency interview expenses…saved. Not to mention an entire year’s worth of time.

I was surprised to see Stanford mentioned in the article multiple times through Dr. Charles Prober, one of our deans. He is a big player in med ed reform, partnering with Khan academies to do the “flipped classroom” that has changed Stanford preclinical education these past years. It surprises me to see Stanford considering shortening med ed because right now, most students take a 5th year to do research or get another degree (or found a start-up. We are in the Silicon Valley, you know). Hopefully Stanford would consider shortening pre-medical education instead of taking that extra year away, starting 7 year BA+MD programs much like Northwestern, BU, or USC.

Either way, I’m curious to see any data in the future comparing 3 year vs. 4 year medical school graduates. Med ed is overdue for a big change right now.

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