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July 11, 2012

Shortening Medical Education

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University, Maastricht, the Netherlands (Mr Duvivier); Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio (Dr Stull); and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, Ohio (Mr Brockman; jab123@case.edu).

JAMA. 2012;308(2):133-136. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.7022

To the Editor: As physicians-in-training, we support the proposal by Drs Emanuel and Fuchs1 to shorten US medical education by 30%. However, further discussion is needed because their suggestions have far-reaching implications.

Emanuel and Fuchs argued that shortening undergraduate medical education is one strategy to reduce the overwhelming debt incurred by most physicians-in-training while also reducing unnecessary repetition of experiences. Although this change may benefit traditional trainees, the average age at medical school matriculation is now 24 years.2 Many US students take nontraditional paths to medical school, pursuing nonscience majors, international experiences, and paid employment. Reducing the length of the premedical experience may compromise recent strides medicine has made in diversifying the physician workforce. Moreover, the impending Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) revisions seek to integrate behavioral and social sciences; thus, preparation for the MCAT is speculated to drive increases in undergraduate coursework.