Stony Brook University School of Medicine’s new three-year medical degree will accept a maximum of 15 students for its first year. MANJU SHIVACHARAN/STATESMAN FILE

The Stony Brook University School of Medicine is rolling out a new accelerated degree program this summer that will allow students to receive an MD degree in three years as opposed to the traditional four.  

The new curriculum will be the second of its kind in New York and the first on Long Island. In the first year, a maximum of 15 students will be admitted into the selective training program along with conditional acceptance into their Stony Brook School of Medicine residency program of choice.  

According to the School of Medicine’s Office of Admissions website, students in the medical program “can expect to develop a long-term mentoring relationship, have a direct pathway for entry into a Stony Brook School of Medicine residency program and enter the physician workforce a year early.”

The three-year MD program is only offered to students who have been accepted into the four-year LEARN curriculum in the School of Medicine.

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“Accepted students who are mature self-directed learners who have a clear idea what kind of doctors they want to be in the end would apply to be considered for the 3YMD program,”  Vice Dean of Undergraduate Medical Education, Faculty Development and Faculty Affairs, Dr. Latha Chandran, said.

During the upcoming 2018-19 academic year, Chandran, the program’s creator, will work with Assistant Dean for Clinical Education, Dr. Lisa Strano Paul, who is the career advisor for students on the 3YMD track.

“There are specific and higher academic standards to remain in the program,” Chandran said.  “Since the students have been conditionally accepted into a residency, it might be less stressful for them than those with an uncertain outcome regarding residency. The condition of acceptance is that they meet the academic and professional standards expected of them.”

According to an article published in Academic Medicine, the journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges, 3YMD programs aim to reduce student debt from savings in tuition costs and solve the issue of physician shortage. In 2015, eight North American medical schools with three-year accelerated medical programs, including Penn State College of Medicine and New York University School of Medicine, established the Consortium of Accelerated Medical Pathway Programs (CAMPP). CAMPP was established to improve and actualize accelerated medical programs in schools across the country.

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A 2014 survey of U.S. medical school deans found that 35 percent of medical schools were considering deploying a three-year med pathway program. By eliminating the fourth year, colleges reduce the time spent on “audition rotations” and residency program interviews that a medical student’s fourth year usually consists of.

Despite the advantages of having a three-year curriculum, some members of the medical community have raised questions about the effectiveness of removing a whole year of study.  

“Medicine is more complicated than it has ever been and the populations that we treat as U.S. physicians require increased knowledge and experience as compared to years past,” Dr. J. William Eley, executive associate dean of medical education and student affairs, graduate medical education, and continuing medical education at Emory University School of Medicine, said. “Therefore, the gravity of decisions now being made by physicians requires more training, knowledge, skills and wisdom than ever. Can we eliminate a full year of learning, both didactic and experiential, in a time of greater knowledge and greater complexity of intervention?”

Dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Louisville, Toni M. Ganzel, said she believes that a three-year program can put students at a disadvantage.  

“It requires rigorous, nearly year-round instruction, reducing the amount of time that students have to explore different career specialties and creating a challenge for extended opportunities in research, global health and community service,” Ganzel said.

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Students admitted into the program will start a month earlier than their regular curriculum peers and have to take coursework during the first summer as well.  

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