We Need to Shorten Time It Takes to Become a Doctor

Slate columnist thinks 14 years is too long
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 14, 2014 4:27 PM CDT
We Need to Shorten Time It Takes to Become a Doctor

We're going to need more doctors in coming years, but our current system of producing them is too long and expensive, writes Brian Palmer in Slate. Factor in college, medical school, and the requisite fellowships and residencies, and the average US physician spends 14 years in training. That's too long, writes Palmer, who argues that the last time the medical community seriously revamped its education process was more than a century ago. It was necessary then, in the wake of the Civil War when scores of poorly trained doctors were unleashed upon the masses. But times have changed.

It's time to experiment, writes Palmer, who runs through a number of suggestions—ditch the last year of medical school, do away with lengthy lab and clinical research projects, and give medical students the chance to accelerate the process on their own are among them. One big problem is that there's been so little experimentation on the subject that we're "in an evidence vacuum." Doctors should "turn the microscopes on themselves and their own training, and accept that the system that produced them may be imperfect," writes Palmer. Click for the full column. (More doctors stories.)

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